A DORSET car dealership has pulled out of its prominent town centre site in a shock closure in Dorchester.

The Lanehouse Group has closed its Lanehouse Suzuki and Lanehouse Vauxhall dealerships and service centres in the county town.

The site at The Grove was closed in what bosses have described as a ‘business decision’ but the premises in Weymouth and Bridport are staying open.

No staff have yet lost their jobs with the company although the company says that there may be ‘casualties’ further down the line.

Business and civic leaders in Dorchester said that they were disappointed that the site was closed but hoped that someone else would take it over.

Managing director and founder of the firm Peter Avery said the company reached an agreement with its landlords and pulled out of the site.

He said: “We decided to relocate and concentrate on our Wey-mouth and Bridport operations.

“It was a business decision.”

Mr Avery added that, while no employees had yet been put out of work and staff would be fully informed of developments, there could be some ‘casualties’ as a result of the move.

He said: “We have not got down to the final nuts and bolts of it yet.

“There may be some casualties but we are not fully aware of the numbers at the moment.”

The Lanehouse Group was established in Weymouth in 1973 and first expanded to Bridport in 1997.

It opened the Vauxhall service in Dorchester in 2008 before adding the Suzuki dealership two years later.

Before the closure of the county town site, Lanehouse employed around 50 staff.

President of Dorchester and District Chamber of Commerce Matt Pye said it was a shame to see Lanehouse pulling out but he was confident the site would attract someone else to come in.

He said: “From the chamber’s point of view it’s a real shame to lose a business like that.

“We hope it will be replaced by somebody of equal standing and it gives an opportunity for somebody else to come to the town.

“It’s a very good site and it will certainly be popular, the chamber just hopes we get a really good operator in there.”

Town councillor for the Dorchester North ward David Taylor was also disappointed.

He said: “In these times of economic turmoil it’s sad to see that as a county town we have lost two of our motor trading partners.

“I’m surprised, considering the vibrancy of Dorchester and the fact it is still an excellent shopping centre and attracts lots of people from all over the county and the country, that they have decided to close.

“Seeing as they have obviously had to move, I wish them success in the future and if they ever decide to come back that would be fantastic.”

Changing Places In Dorchester

THE loss of the Lanehouse dealership comes on the back of a number of retail closures in Dorchester.

This month has seen Starbucks and C&H Fresh Butchers close their doors in South Street, while Stead & Simpson shoe shop has launched a closing down sale. Wellchester has been replaced by Poundland and JJB Sports is to be replaced by fellow sports retailer Sports Direct.

Other stores to close their doors over recent months include Game and Mothercare while the Town Mill Bakery and Julian Greaves health food store closed last year.

New stores to open in the town centre include Crew Clothing Co, Steam Trading Cookshop and Two Kings jewellers and pawnbrokers while Lidl opened a supermarket opposite the Lanehouse dealership at The Grove.