Halfords has paid £15 million to buy a motor services company in the South East of England which specialises in changing tyres on cars and tractors.

The firm said it is buying Kent-based Universal Tyre and Autocentres, which has 20 sites across the region and runs 89 response vans.

Halfords plans to run 550 garages across the UK (Halfords/PA)

Around £9 million of the price tag that Halfords paid was to buy Universal’s real estate and its cash. It now plans to find a new buyer for the buildings and then rent them back within the next few months.

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Universal specialises in tyre services, including for agricultural vehicles, commercial vehicles and cars. It also offers general car maintenance – repairing brakes, performing servicing and MOTs.

Last year the business made more than £31 million in revenue, while its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) were around £1.5 million.

Halfords said it would be able to bring synergies through the acquisition, which also helps it towards the target of running 550 garages across the UK.

Following the acquisition, Halfords has 374 garages and 321 repair vans in its autocentres division. It also runs 404 retail shops which also provide car services.

Halfords has 404 retail shops in addition to hundreds of garages and repair vans (PA)

Chief executive Graham Stapleton said: “We have a clearly stated strategy of building a market-leading motoring services offer, and the acquisition of Universal is another important step forward in helping us to achieve that goal.

“We continue to see strong demand for our autocentres, for our expanding fleet of Halfords mobile expert vans, and for our growing commercial business. Universal will help us to meet that demand whilst also expanding our geographic footprint in a market for which we see significant potential.”