THE FOUNDER of a car dealership with major branches in Blackburn, Bolton and Preston has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award.

Michael Smyth, who has been honoured with the award by the Car Dealer Used Car Awards, first entered the industry in 1967, beginning with just two wooden huts to repair vehicles in and two petrol pumps.

Now, Swanway Group, of which Mr Smyth is chair, employs over 1,000 members of staff with a turnover of £770 million and branches across Lancashire and the North West, with a branch in Blackburn on Trident Park, Whitebirk Drive.

Mr Smyth said: “It is with great pleasure that I receive the 2020 Car Dealer Used Car Awards Lifetime Achievement Award, it is a very special moment of recognition for me.

“Making a difference to the lives of motorists, and being able to give back to the communities where we do business, has always been a great privilege, and I am looking forward to all the further advancements we are aiming to bring to customers.

“Thank you to all those memorable individuals who have taken to heart the Swansway ethos of caring, honest and proud, and who have contributed to our success over the years.

“I look forward to all we will achieve together in the future.”

Mr Smyth, now in his eighties, founded the company after many years of previous experience in the industry with his three sons in 2003, with Swanway Group remaining a family business since then.

During his long career, Mr Smyth has set up various other businesses including RRG Group, which became Europe’s largest Toyota dealer, contact hire and leasing business Elton Vehicle Contacts and automotive plan business EMaC, which he sold in 2012.

A Swanway Group spokesperson said: “From the purchase of a business comprising two wooden huts for repairing vehicles and two petrol pumps in 1967, to currently leading a business of over 1,000 staff with a turnover of £770 million, Michael Smyth’s inspiring career in the automotive industry is remarkable.

“His ever-present entrepreneurial spirit, hard work and dedication, combined with his instinctive understanding of the importance of the customer experience, has led to his consistently outstanding performance in a variety of enterprises.”