In 1931, the Cowie family started a motorcycle repair business in Sunderland. In 1934 the first sales outlet opened on what became the location of the Group Head Offices. Business came to a halt in 1942 because of the effects of the war, but reopened in 1948 and benefited from the boom in personal mobility offered by the motorcycle. A second motorcycle shop was opened in Newcastle in 1952. Further expansion occurred in 1955 with another branch in Newcastle, and new branches in Durham and Stockton-on-Tees. A move into the Scottish market was taken with the acquisition of the J R Alexander motorcycle dealerships in Edinburgh and Glasgow in 1960. However, there were signs that the market was moving against the motorcycle, and in favour of the motor car which was becoming a more mass market item in availability and price.