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Golf equipment to join cars in Prestons Group outlets

Dealers need to improve their retailing capabilities to offer experiences on a par with companies in other sectors, according to Prestons Group managing director Lee Collins. He wants the £40m turnover North-west Prestons Group to offer customers a multi-retailing experience by seeking partnerships with like-minded businesses to retail from the dealership.

“The multi-retailing operation would have new cars on one side, used on the other and premium branded products in the middle of the dealership,” said Mr Collins.

“This could be divided into quadrants containing, for example, hi-fi equipment, like Bang & Olufsen, golf and leisure activities. It would attract more customers to the dealership, not just people looking for a car, by making the experience more interesting. All retailers would benefit from an increase in business.”

He expects to see the initiative become reality over the next 10 years as dealers recognise the benefits and receive support from manufacturers.

Prestons, which has two prestige dealerships – BMW and Land Rover – near Burnley, Lancs, is planning to expand after acquiring land adjacent to the BMW site. Mr Collins hopes to forge partnerships with the group's existing franchises and Ford Premier Automotive Group (PAG) brands.

“The capital structure of the business will allow us to expand when we want to. But we only want premium-branded franchises because we already have the experience of offering high quality customer service,” he said.

“It would be difficult to offer a similar quality service in a high volume franchise which offers lower returns. We have one standard to live up to and that costs money..." The full interview with Mr Collins is in this week's Automotive Management.

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