Leonard Bennett’s experience in the Motor Industry started with an apprenticeship in the Motor Transport Department of the Hammersmith Distillery in 1914. He left this to join the Royal Flying Corps in 1917. In 1939 he joined the Royal Army Service Corps as a Motor Instructor and Organiser. On demobilisation in 1945 he started working on bicycles as motor cars were scarce and petrol was rationed.
In 1947 Leonard along with a friend managed to secure a space for a stall on St. Albans Saturday market. During this time his son David Bennett was a student but spent most of his time repairing and dismantling cars, including Austin Sevens which he also sold.
David Bennett’s 1933 Austin Seven Tourer – David has owned this current model since 1963
Leonard Bennett, his wife Queenie and son David Bennett rented a shop and workshop premises in Normandy Road St. Albans on the 17th May 1954. The business name was registered with the Board of Trade at this time which enabled the business to have a business account with Barclays Bank.
1956 – Buma Boring Bar obtained. Enabling us to re-bore customer’s engines.
1957 – Buying Butler and Angel’s piston ring stock, old machinery and employing full time Engineer, Wilf Fensome.
1957 – Employ Brian Rowe Full Time.
Also in May 1954– Roger Bannister runs the first sub-four minute mile
1960 – Open account with Quinton Hazel.
1961 – Purchase free hold of 21, Normandy Road.
1964 – Start regular delivery service to customers.
1965 – Open direct account with Oldham Batteries.
1965 – Employ first full time sales representative.
1966 – Open direct account with Mintex Friction.
David Bennett at 21 Normandy Road (with young employee)
1970 – Import engine valves from Italy, Spain and Japan
1971 – Employed a representative to sell engine valves nationally.
1974 – Arrange the production of replacement cam followers for Ford engines. These were sold nationally along with the engine valves.
1975 – Exclusive arrangement with Regina in Italy to import and sell their timing chains which we distributed nationally.
1975 – Exclusive arrangement to distribute Tridon Universal wiper blades. This was the first blade to use adaptors to suit different types of arm.
1979 – Opened branch at Milton Keynes
Also in 1970’s – World Oil Crisis
1980 – Opened branch at Ipswich.
1981 – Purchased Stony Statford Commercial and moved this to Milton Keynes
1981 – Moved all engine recon work to Milton Keynes
1982 – Opened a branch at Towchester.
1984 – Opened a branch at Felixstowe.
1986 – Moved from 21 Normandy Road to 43.
1987 – First computer. Amstrad with Sage payroll
1980’s the first model of the IBM PC, was released
1990’s – 2000’s
1991 – Bennetts entered on a scheme to visit and sell our exhaust parts resulting in a trebling of exhaust sales.
1992 – The Cambridge depot was built and purchased. Bennetts acquiring customers and managing the Depot.
1993 – The Exhaust warehouse was built at Ipswich and again entered on a scheme to visit and sell our exhaust parts. Exhaust sales which were not enjoyed previously at Ipswich doubled the turnover.
2000 – Open Bennetts store in Welwyn Garden City
2004 – Open Larger premises in Welwyn Garden City
2011 – Move Head office to Welwyn Garden City from Kings Langley.
2012 – Open new branches in Cheshunt – Harlow – Luton.
Bennetts employ more than 200 staff, distribute stock to the trade using 85 commercial vehicles and have 24 branches in the UK. We trade within an IFA buying group of approved suppliers to the automotive industry and public, including brands such as Blue Print, Brake Engineering, Ferrodo, Draper Tools, Laser Tools, Valeo, Comma, Mobil 1, KYB, Gates, Sealey Tools, Autodata, Sykes Pickavant, Klarius, Wil Filtration, NGK, Febi, FAI and many others.