Lookers’ Charles Hurst Group accelerates local investment plans and vision for all-electric driving

Charles Hurst is charging ahead with a £2 million investment to open a new, landmark dealership that will bring the challenger electric vehicle (EV) CUPRA brand to its Northern Ireland retail estate for the first time.

Launching a new recruitment drive to fill a range of 26 new roles, the region’s largest new and used car retailer – part of Lookers Plc, one of the UK and Ireland’s leading automotive retail and service groups – said the CUPRA and SEAT dealership will open later this year, significantly expanding the choice of electric vehicles on offer to customers across the region.

One of Europe’s fastest-growing EV brands, CUPRA is the premium performance brand of Spanish parent SEAT, both of which are owned by leading car maker Volkswagen.

Confirming the investment, Charles Hurst Group Operations Director Jeff McCartney said:

“Committed to growth and delivering an unrivalled choice for our customers in Northern Ireland, we’re delighted to be expanding our brand portfolio and introducing the groundbreaking CUPRA hybrid and all-electric vehicles to meet fast-growing local demand for cutting-edge, sustainable and innovative driving options.”

Charles Hurst operates across eight sites in Northern Ireland and two in the Republic, representing more than 20 of the world’s top global car manufacturers, including leading premium and luxury brands.

“Since the start of this year, we’ve invested around £8 million across our dealership estate, increasing choice and creating new jobs as part of an ambitious strategy to drive new growth and success, as we look toward an all-electric driving future,” Jeff McCartney said.

Launched in 2018 as a standalone brand, CUPRA sales jumped by almost 90 percent last year, with 14,383 units registered in the UK compared to 7,584 in 2021, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders. It has already sold 200,000 models worldwide and plans to add another three groundbreaking EVs by 2025, complementing its on-the-market CUPRA Born and Formentor models.

Welcoming the announcement, Lookers’ Chief Operating Officer, Duncan McPhee, said:

“Right across the Group and in every region, we are rapidly accelerating our journey towards all-electric driving that accurately matches the needs of our customers who are keen to embrace a more sustainable future by delivering unrivalled choice, information and advice for every step of the way.

 “We’re proud that in Northern Ireland, Charles Hurst continues to charge ahead as the market leader in this vitally important area.

 “ All cars sold as new will be electric in the UK after 2030 when a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans comes into force by the UK government. However, hybrid cars that can drive a significant distance in zero-emission mode will be exempt from this until 2035.”

Charles Hurst has invested significantly in its retail estate this year and in a range of brands, including around £2.2 million in a new cutting-edge Toyota showroom, around £1 million to refurbish and relaunch two Nissan dealerships in Belfast and Newtownards and £3m in a significant redevelopment of their Parts Centre on Boucher Road.

It is also advancing plans to launch Northern Ireland’s only Lotus dealership after striking an agreement with the premium sports car maker last year.  Lotus is added to an existing collection of premium brand partners of the Charles Hurst business which already includes Ferrari, Maserati, Bentley and Aston Martin.