We speak to Stephen Kerridge, owner of the family-run TVR, Noble and MG dealership for Suffolk
Kerridges is a family-run business, which has remained local and true to its roots and heritage for more than 100 years. It was established back in 1906 by Dan Kerridge, and today Stephen Kerridge, Dan’s great-grandson, runs the business with his father John. Stephen says: ‘My father and I are both involved in the business so if anyone wants to speak to the man whose name is above the door, they can. The majority of staff have been here for over 10 years, it really does feel like a family business.’
Kerridges has been in Needham Market (though not always at the same site) since its inception. The business grew to become a Ford dealership in 1911 and in 1920 was relocated to new premises to offer a garage and filling station, too. Dan and his two sons, Jack and Leslie, became agents for Chevrolet and Bedford cars and vans. In 1956, under Leslie’s son John, Kerridges acquired the Austin franchise and in the sixties/seventies added Morris, MG, Rover and Triumph to that list, offering an array of British-built saloons and sports cars. Although Kerridges are known far and wide for their performance cars, the largest part of their business comes from selling family cars. Stephen says ‘The brand new MG3 is proving really popular and is a great small family car.’ TVR was the catalyst that really put Kerridges on the map in the performance car market and in 2003 Stephen took on Noble, a more exclusive performance brand to compliment TVR and are one of only five Noble Service Centres in the UK
As well as offering both new and used cars, Kerridges also have an extremely experienced workshop and full parts department headed by Chris Taylor (over 30 years with the company), with four M.O.T testers on site who service, maintain and repair all ages and makes of car. They also have a very good professional valeting department, led by Jamie Slee who has 25 years’ experience at the company, and can arrange for your car to look as good as new, from a simple wash and hoover to refurbishment of your alloy wheels.
In 2006 Stephen and his team celebrated 100 years in business. ‘It’s nice to have that heritage behind us but at same time you can’t rely on history; you still have to go out and deliver.’
Stephen started in the business as an apprentice mechanic and after four years in the workshop moved into sales and today manages the dealership with 16 full time staff. In recent years Stephen has been successfully involved in racing MGs and TVRs. Both he and technician Jamie Perry had victories around the UK’s circuits with Jamie taking an MG Owners Championship title. ‘There’s no doubt that knowledge gained from racing has been invaluable when dealing with the performance cars we service and repair.’
When visiting Kerridges you’ll see TVRs, Nobles, Porsches, Lotus’, a few classic cars as well as BMW Z4s and Audi TTs. Oliver Sisson (sales) says “We like to be thought of as a ‘one stop shop’ for sports cars and of course family cars”. People have busy lives and don’t have the time to visit numerous dealerships in order to see what’s available. “We’ve always got something interesting coming in. “This week we have a rare TVR Tamora and an Aston Martin Vantage roadster arriving.” Stephen explains ‘One thing that works well for customers is vehicle sourcing. ‘Although we have around 40 cars in the showroom at any one time, if we don’t have the car clients are looking for they can give us a specification and with our wide range of contacts we can normally source their ideal car for them. This requires a great deal of trust and I think being a long established family business helps with the process.’
“A side of the business which has expanded this year is our sales of classic cars.” These currently represent a good investment whilst giving the fun element that comes with owning one.
With so many great cars at his fingertips, we were curious about Stephen’s favourite: ‘Noble M12 GTO3R’, he says. ‘At £36,000 the Noble M12 GTO3R has outstanding performance and handling. The great thing is it will outperform just about every car two or three times the price.’
You can visit Kerridges at Hall Grange, Needham Market, Ipswich, Suffolk IP6 8EJ, www.kerridges.co.uk or call on 01449 720222. Opening hours are Mon-Fri 8:30-18:00 Sat 8:30-17:00 Sunday appointment only.