Saab GB is looking for up to 35 dealers from its 100-strong network to spearhead a move to secure £40m of parts and accessories business from the independent, non-franchised sector.
The move represents a policy U-turn for Saab, which now recognises the importance of the independent sector for parts profits. It will concentrate on the estimated 150-strong network of Saab specialists operating outside of the franchised dealer network as well as bodyshops and repair outlets.
Dealers will act as wholesalers to stock and supply Saab-approved parts. They will be selected based on geographical position to give Saab a good coverage throughout the UK.
Those that have existing relationships with independent specialists are likely to be given priority during the selection process.
Saab has appointed seven regional parts and accessories sales manager to work with the selected dealers. A spokesman said dealers were "very keen" to join the scheme. "They realise that this is the type of business they should have. It will boost their aftermarket parts profits," he said.
Neil Barnett, Saab GB general manager, parts commercial, is confident Saab can take a substantial share of business away from the independent parts producers.
"Historically Saab has largely ignored the potential of sales to the specialist sector but that position has now changed with the creation of this new team," he said.
"In partnership with participating dealers, we can deliver Saab guaranteed components at extremely competitive prices, backed with a level of service on par with that enjoyed by our franchised network."
Saab will take the fight to the independent parts producers, competing on price and service. Dealers will be supported by trade marketing and other promotions.
The spokesman also pointed to the carmaker's unparalleled range of parts which would be supplied with full guarantees. "We believe there is around £40m worth of business available," he said. "We won't take it overnight - it will take a couple of years to build up."