Bristol’s Simonstone car dealership closed down three years ago - what’s next for landmark site?

The dealership in Brislington closed suddenly
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It has been more than three years since the Simonstone Motor Company stopped trading from its well-known dealership on the Bath Road in Brislington. The site was one of the biggest dealerships in the city.

Its closure reportedly resulted in the loss of around 80 jobs and left the large unit at 803 to 805 Bath Road - in full view for motorists queuing before the West Town Lane traffic lights - empty.

Today, we can report on a small development which unfortunatley leads to more questions over the future of the site, which now has sports car dealership Raceline & 809 as its neighbour.

See below:

What happened

Simonstone was a major dealership on the Bath Road which sold Fiat, Jeep, Alfa Romeo and Abarth vehicles. It was well-known in the Bristol region, but in December in 2019 the dealership suddenly closed.

Two months later, assets from the dealership went up for auction at AMS Auctions, which reportedly said the event was a ‘very successful sale’. Along with cars, laptops, printers and desks were also sold off.

No reason was ever given for the closure. But a look on Companies House reveals that the company, Simonstone (Bristol) Ltd, went into administration in January, 2020. In a statement of affairs from the appointed administrators, the company was shown to be owing creditors £2.1million.

Creditors included St George-based Dings & Dents Ltd and Chipping Sodbury-based Definitive Event Solutions Ltd. Money was also owed to Bristol City Council in unpaid business rates.

The Simonstone site in Brislington has been empty for more than a monthThe Simonstone site in Brislington has been empty for more than a month
The Simonstone site in Brislington has been empty for more than a month

What’s gone on since

While the process took place to dissolve Simonstone (Bristol) Ltd, which was completed in October 2021, little change initially happened at the site apart from the immediate removal of all the vehicles and building fittings.

Security cameras were also put up and vegetation started to grow on the site.

However, last year the building was brought back into use again as items such as tables and chairs were seen stored inside. That looked to be in line with the start of a lease by Bristol-based events firm FOB Media and 809 Bath Road Ltd from the landlord Hartwell Plc in November 8, 2022.

But this year the site was emptied again, and in February a formal notice of forfeiture of lease was issued by Hartwell Plc. This is when the landlord exercises the right to end the lease and take possession of the property.

The notice of forfeiture notice up at the siteThe notice of forfeiture notice up at the site
The notice of forfeiture notice up at the site

What now?

The honest answer is we don’t know. The landlord Hartwell Plc is a major Ford vehicle dealer with a head office just outside Oxford. Bristol World reached out to the company and asked why the lease with FOB Media and 809 Bath Road Ltd had been ended, and what the company now had planned for the site.

Someone from the company replied to say they had ‘nothing to report’ in a response issued today (May 17).

The site is the only empty unit along the side of the Bath Road opposite Brislington Retail Park - and one hopes it is brought back into use at a date in the near future.