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Paul Hendy, Chief Executive

5th Generation Hendy.

Since Frederick Adolphus Hendy began his family business in 1859, his children and their children have successfully navigated their way through two world wars, a Great Depression, numerous financial crises and the recent Covid pandemic. Highlights have included becoming Britain’s first Ford dealer in 1910 and producing Spitfires during World War Two.


But, by some margin, the greatest growth and success has come under the stewardship of the seventh Hendy family member (and fifth generation of Hendy) to lead the business, current Chief Executive Paul. He took the reins in 2002, aged 35. Just a few years earlier, the company diversified by taking on its second car franchise, Honda.

Today Hendy sells more than 20 brands in 70 locations across the South Coast, from Devon to Kent. The diverse portfolio – from Lotus sports car to Land Rovers, from electric Kias to Transit vans – means Hendy can satisfy the family motoring needs of anyone.


The business has boomed under Paul. Since 2014, it has grown six-fold and now turns over more than £1.2 billion a year, employing 1700 people. ‘We had to grow to survive,’ says Paul. ‘Scale is crucial. We have expanded and acquired other companies. We've been very ambitious. But with scale, you must manage culture, to make sure you don't lose the human touch.’

According to Simon Gulliford, Hendy’s Chairman, Paul has differentiated the Hendy Group from other big car retailer groups in many ways, including by championing the values of a great family-run company. ‘He’s tenacious and ambitious and knows Hendy must expand to prosper. But Hendy also displays the values of a traditional family business, by looking after and frequently knowing customers, and by staying local and supporting the South Coast communities in which Hendy operates. It means taking a long-term view, by nurturing the business and retaining colleagues. He has a great capacity to motivate others. It also means building and sustaining a rapport with the car makers and key suppliers, crucial to running a successful car retailing group.’

‘He’s tenacious and ambitious and knows Hendy must expand to prosper.'

Family matters to Paul. His three children, cousins John, Clare and niece Chloe, all work for the group. His wife Rebecca runs Hendy Foundation, the charity that provides grants to local charitable organisations and projects. 


Paul says there are many advantages of a strong family run business. ‘It includes speed of decision making, taking care of your team, having a strong moral compass and long-term thinking. We make decisions that affect future generations. The company will outlast us and we all know that.’

Paul was born in Dorset. At the time, his father Norman ran the Bournemouth and Boscombe dealerships, while his uncle Arthur ran the company until his death in 1977, when Norman took over the reins.


He always felt destined to work in the business, although there was never any obligation. ‘My father was very clear about that, as I am to my children. You’ve got to want to do it. It’s a tough business. But it’s in my blood and always has been.’


He loves cars, which helps. Like his brother Stephen, Paul is a former rally driver. The Hendy Group is also a long-time sponsor of promising young British racing drivers, dreaming of careers in Formula One. The annual Hendy Performance Day at the Thruxton racing circuit in Hampshire last year attracted over 6000 people.

Paul experienced all facets of the business – ‘from salesmen to van driver to working in the body shop and workshop’ – before he moved into management.


He wants to keep the business local, even as the Hendy Group grows. ‘Our footprint is growing as we expand organically and acquire, but we’re still proudly South Coast. We’re part of the community and have been for generations.  We help local communities and sponsor local junior sports clubs and local theatres. We have the local relationships, as family businesses often do. We can stay connected on an individual level, so customers don't feel they’re transacting with a faceless corporation.’

Hendy’s regional not national footprint also makes life easier for colleagues who must travel. ‘If we’re going to be a family business, where family is at the heart of the business – and I don't just mean my family, I mean all our people’s families – then I don’t think it’s conducive to family life to be away travelling all the time.’


Paul expects continuing strong growth. New customer service offerings include Hendy Go car subscription, which allows access to a range of vehicles from different brands. Hendy is the first UK franchised retailer to offer such a new car subscription service. There’s also the Hendy App, which enables customers to book servicing, repairs and MOT tests, while being able to store all documents in one convenient location.


Offering traditional family-run values certainly doesn’t stand in the way of innovation. ‘Like all businesses, we must keep innovating to prosper,’ says Paul. ‘But it’s important to stick to the values which have served this business and this family well for 165 years.’

‘Like all businesses, we must keep innovating to prosper. But it’s important to stick to the values which have served this business and this family well for more than 160 years.’