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Renault at hub of new-look network

Nissan dealers in the UK who have seen Renault assume rapid and complete management control of the Japanese manufacturer are feeling vulnerable with many believing they will lose out in the process to create 60 or 65 territories, within which one dealer group will operate all outlets for both carmakers.

This month's announcement that Lookers is taking the Greater Manchester territory for Nissan with five outlets was seen as a morale-booster because Renault Retail has a dealership in Manchester.

Renault dealers have always been wary of the manufacturer's owned group of sales outlets which has played such an important role in raising UK sales and market share.

Now Aprite, Nissan's dealership network is being absorbed into Renault Retail Group. The latest AM100 revealed that 19-outlet Renault Retail Group (17 main, two satellites) stands at No12, with a turnover of £617m. That is two places higher than Peugeot's Robins & Day whose 35 outlets returned a turnover of £580m.

Andrew Luck, Renault UK commercial operations director, said: “Renault Retail Group will operate some of the hubs. It was formed in the Seventies to open dealerships where franchised dealers would not.

“We lost our way in the Eighties and had too many sites of all kinds and too many dealers were trying to win sales against other Renault dealers. We and Nissan believe in the franchise system.”

In 1996, Renault had 260 retail territories, with 311 main and retail outlets. That has been reduced to 195 territories, with 304 outlets. The target is 125 territories within three years.

Mr Luck said: “A common hub for Renault and Nissan makes sense in the long term with savings from the manufacturers and dealers using some of the same processes. Nissan doesn't have the same system of satellites and its dealers must go through the same development stage as ours.”

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