A MAJOR East Lancashire car dealership is investing £4million in building a new state-of-the-art vehicle preparation centre and expanding the showroom at its Blackburn complex.

The two developments will enable Hippo Motor Group to increase its workforce from 160 to 200.

The firm has bought an extra 10 acres of land adjoining its site in Trident Way in Whitebirk for its new 40,000 sq ft vehicle preparation centre.

The Hippo Motor Group was established in 2007 by Pendle father and son team Richard and Tom Preston, who previously ran Preston’s BMW dealership in Colne for 40 years.

Managing director Tom Preston said: “We bought 10 acres of land from the council this year in order to forge ahead with plans to build the centre.

“We operate in a very competitive market, so it’s vital that we continually seek to invest and in doing so bring jobs to Lancashire.

“When works are completed by Barnfield Construction, our new vehicle preparation centre will boast the UK’s first body shop with a new fixed line system, 15-bay workshop, separate valet facility for up to 20 cars and a smart repair centre.

“Once the build and fit is completed, we will start work on extending our showroom and offices in Trident Park, which will take six months and £1m to complete.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council regeneration boss Cllr Phil Riley said: “We are thrilled by this development.

“Hippo is major local company and this will bring new skilled jobs of the type the borough wants.

“The investment is a big vote of confidence in the future growth of Blackburn with Darwen.”

The firm self-finances and leases cars from manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Ford, Porsche, Bentley, Aston Martin and BMW.