Jaguar is revamping its dealer network ready for the launch of X-type, which is expected to attract a younger customer base. It is the third carmaker to announce network changes this year, following Toyota and Peugeot.
John Abel, UK marketing manager, said X-type customers would be “younger, more demanding and come from more diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds”.
He described the new dealer image as “health and leisure club rather than stately home”.
Out go the chesterfield sofas and burr walnut and in come Playstations, American cherry wood and modern desks, chairs and coffee cups.
Launch activity for X-type starts this week with a fleet of 20 cars touring the country.
“We're asking dealers to go out and find customers with a focused hit on things like health club members,” said Mr Abel.
Trendy restaurants and bars will also be targeted. “It's the biggest thing our 95 dealers have ever done,” Mr Abel added.
Inchcape and the independently-owned Hadley Green Garage in Barnet, Herts, piloted the programme. It was called “scale shift” because the idea was to “find out the barriers to shifting scale from niche to volume”, said Mr Abel.
Everything was assessed, from office support staff levels to the number of coffee cups that would be needed. Each dealer has appointed an X-type specialist who will have been working at the dealership for up to a year before launch.
“Most have been recruited for the job and are in their early 20s, business or marketing graduates rather than sales people,” said Mr Abel. “This is bringing new blood into the dealership and hopefully they will stay on after the launch.
“With a 75% loyalty rate on the XJ series, there was a danger that dealers could be complacent because it's not hard to keep our traditional customers happy.”
UK X-type sales target is 10,000 this year, split 50/50 between the 2.5-litre and 3-litre versions. Prices start at £22,000, rising to £26,250 for the range-topping 3.0 V6 SE.