Sung-Kee Kim, UK managing director of Daewoo Cars, is confident of attracting at least one dealer a week during 2002. The company, which jettisoned its pioneering direct-deal approach earlier this year, wants to rapidly build up the dealer network to stem falling sales.
It has recruited former Volkswagen Group dealer recruitment veteran Jerry Dennis to mastermind the creation of a 118-strong network.
Daewoo plans to have 14 dealers signed up by January and 58 by the end of 2002. It has already appointed Arnold Clark in Scotland, with outlets in Glasgow and Dundee, Millennium in Nottingham and Roadworthy in Bristol.
Sales have slumped badly this year, down 44% on 2000, due to uncertainty over the future of the South Korean parent company and restructuring at Daewoo Cars in Britain.
Mr Kim said: “Now the Memorandum of Understanding has been signed it's not a question of whether General Motors will buy Daewoo or not, the due diligence process has just been ensuring the price is right. We expect the deal to be completed before Christmas.
“In the UK we have been restructuring. We are now out of the fleet business so naturally we are selling fewer cars, but the company is in better shape.”
Daewoo used the UK as a test bed for dealing direct with customers when it launched in 1995 because it had to build the brand.
“No-one knew anything about us and the cars we had to offer at the time were not the latest technology – we were not in a position to attract top dealers,” said Mr Kim.
“Now we have good product and a lot more coming through including a 4x4 and a new volume sector model. We are now looking for dealers who can offer the level of service we have been giving customers for the past six years and we have been in discussion with big groups such as Dixons, Vardy and Pendragon as well smaller, privately-owned businesses.”
Human resources director Peter Ellis added: “We have had around 170 serious enquiries and we see no reason why we should not reach our target of 58 dealers by the end of next year.”
Daewoo aims to improve market share in the UK from 0.8% this year to 3% by 2005. This goal will be assisted by a £3m TV ad campaign from January designed to boost Daewoo's profile and attract and support dealers.
For the first time the ads will concentrate on the product rather than the Daewoo ownership and price package. Two ads will feature Matiz, the company's top UK seller, and the Tacuma mini-MPV which needs a kick-start.
These will be Daewoo's first TV ads for almost a year and Mr Kim believed they would be particularly beneficial to the Tacuma.
“Tacuma went on sale at the wrong time when there were a lot of negative stories about Daewoo but it is an impressive package against rivals like the Citroen Picasso and Renault Scenic,” he said.