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Honda follows M-B down brand route

Honda is the first manufacturer to follow Mercedes-Benz with a UK brand centre approach to winning and keeping customers.

In the autumn, the company is due to open the first in Chiswick, west London. It will stock and sell Honda's complete product range – cars, motorcycles, quad bikes, marine craft, generators and lawnmowers.

The brand centre, on Honda's former UK headquarters, will pioneer a plan to extend the concept throughout the UK network. It will be branded with logos from each of Honda's divisions.

A Honda spokesman said: “We want to establish the level of cross-division marketing opportunities and exploit cross-brand retailing. It's a pilot operation – we don't believe this sort of facility has been tried before.”

Mercedes' controversial reorganisation of its dealer network will be based on brand centres in London, Birmingham and Manchester. Honda believes it can use the strength of its brand across a variety of products.

Honda dealer John Maguire, managing director of Phoenix Group, based in Paisley, Scotland, said: “Honda has high quality products ideal for this initiative. It would offer dealers a different profit centre and help us to diversify into other areas of business.

“A growing number of born-again bikers have high-disposable income and are extremely brand loyal. We aren't official stockists for Honda motorcycles or power equipment, but we always display some – there is an excellent opportunity to cross-sell.”

The Honda brand centre, which fills an open point in London, will be managed by an independent business principal, either self-employed or working for a Honda dealer. They would need to “operate independently but represent Honda's interests”, said the spokesman.

Honda had no plans to follow Mercedes by opening a network of centres to replace dealers. “We are talking to our dealers and updating them with our plans,” he said.

Honda UK managing director Ken Keir said the centre would offer “a unique and exciting experience” for potential buyers.

“They will be able to see and interact with the complete Honda product range. The centre will provide us with an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with our customers – and to better serve their needs.”

Meanwhile, Peugeot has set up a 'business institute' to oversee a revamp of its dealer network. It will focus on premises, people and processes, in a bid to sustain its UK growth and raise loyalty among customers.

Newly appointed director Peter Haynes said dealers would be encouraged to adopt the changes within a “sensible, logical timeframe”.

The scheme, piloted at Peugeot's Robins & Day Pavilion outlet in Derby, includes exterior/interior improvements and staff training.

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