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Showrooms to be jewel in the crown of Porsche

Andy Goss has a mission statement for Porsche: “To make it the No1 car brand in the UK.” Topping the Sewells dealer attitude survey appears to confirm it but he will not tolerate complacency.

“We were third in 1999, second last year and this time we have won,” said the managing director of Porsche Cars Great Britain. “Now we have to stay there.”

Mr Goss wants Porsche to be measured as No1 by customers, dealers and independent industry observers. “We could never do it on volume, so other evaluations are key,” he said. The Sewells accolade boosted morale among the company's 90 staff and the dealer network. “The survey includes 127 questions and is the most comprehensive of its kind,” he said.

But surely it was much easier for Porsche (high-cost cars, low sales) to pull it off rather than, say, Toyota or Ford with their wide ranges and big volumes.

“We still had to beat companies like BMW and satisfy one of the most demanding sets of customers,” said Mr Goss. “People who drive new Porsches stay at specialist hotels and expect a high level of customer care.”

He is focused on upgrading the dealer network ready for the Cayenne, a 4x4 which he said would be a sporting Porsche. It goes on sale before the end of next year by which time Mr Goss wants all the dealerships in Porsche's UK network to be up to the target quality.

“We didn't need to do any arm twisting to persuade them to invest a total of £35m,” he said. “They are confident Cayenne will widen the range of buyers, as well as increasing volumes.”

He wants eight “dealer partners” to account for 80% of UK sales. Dealerships are to be rebranded to focus on the marque and place (as Lexus has done). The £40m turnover AFN Chiswick in west London, where sales are the carmaker's highest in the UK, will become Porsche Chiswick.

In the financial year ending next month, PCGB expects to sell 4,600 cars, a 36% year-on-year increase. The average turnover of a Porsche dealership is £18/19m with managements gaining a return on capital invested of around 4.9%.

Mr Goss said Porsche had increased sales because it was the first manufacturer to cut prices last year following the Competition Commission inquiry.

“Our research shows Porsche owners prefer to buy from a dealership, rather than online,” he said. “We intend to create more of a Porsche environment in our showrooms, so that if you took the cars out, you would know it was one of ours.

“We will do that through selling merchandise and the way staff treat customers. Showrooms will have smaller windows, creating a jewellery box effect. Buying a Porsche should be an emotional experience, but one that also makes financial sense – the cars hold their value remarkably well.”

The first Porsche dealership incorporating the new design is at Stuttgart Airport near the manufacturer's headquarters in Germany. All UK dealerships should have adopted the new image by the end of 2002, including Porsche's own AFN outlets.

Kevin Flynn resigned as AFN managing director in April “as part of a management restructuring”, said Mr Goss. Formerly general manager of Lexus UK, he was recruited by the ex Toyota GB sales director.

Chris Gaygill, once with the Car Group (the used car chain which collapsed), is promoted to replace Mr Flynn, but as general manager, which Mr Goss said was a reflection of AFN's closer integration into PCGB.

Asked whether this meant AFN would drop its Audi dealerships, Mr Goss said: “AFN will continue to represent the brands of the manufacturers it is already involved with and at the moment no changes are planned.”

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