Inchcape PLC has confirmed it has had several approaches to sell its UK retail division.

In a Stock Exchange announcement, the global business said: “Inchcape confirms that following approaches from a number of interested parties it is reviewing strategic options for the UK Retail business, which potentially could include a sale. This review is at a very early stage and there can be no certainty that it will result in a transaction.”

The PLC has been positioning itself as a global automotive distribution business over the past few years and derives only a small proportion of its profits from servicing and retailing cars in the UK.

According to Sky News, Inchcape is working with financial firm Rothschild to facilitate the sale of the division which employs 3,700 people. According to Auto Market Data, Inchcape currently operates 72 new car sales points across the UK including brands such as Mercedes, JLR, BMW, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Interested parties are expected to be based outside the UK with a spate of North American investors recently buying up UK groups.

US firm Lithia recently bought Jardine Motors and is in the process of buying Pendragon’s dealerships. Canadian firm Alpha Auto Group bought Lookers last year.

Inchcape’s most recent results (for 2022) show the retail division had a turnover of £2.26 billion and an operating profit of £47.5 million. However, Inchcape recently announced it was, after two years, shutting its UK Bravoauto used car business which was designed to be a “digital-first, multi-brand, B2C used car platform”.

While the business has cautioned that a sale may not result, if it did go ahead it would leave only Vertu and Caffyns as the only listed auto retail groups in the UK.