DaimlerChrysler UK Retail managing director Geoff Brady believes other carmakers will copy Mercedes-Benz's controversial dealer network reorganisation “if it works”.
In his first interview, at Frankfurt motor show, Mr Brady said: “I think what Mercedes has put in place is ahead of other manufacturers. It starts to explore the possibilities of what can be done out of the Block Exemption review.
“A lot of other people will copy this route because everybody copies success. It's all being done for the consumer – having more control over retail means more customers.”
Mercedes-Benz intends to sell direct in the London, Birmingham and Manchester areas where it plans brand centres. It is terminating all its franchised dealers and negotiating contracts with chosen retail partners.
Mr Brady has held executive positions with high street retailers including Allied Carpets, J Sainsbury, Woolworth and SuperDrug. He is responsible for all DCUK-owned retail operations including the Mercedes new and used sites, and Smart. Franchised Mercedes and Chrysler Jeep dealers are likely to be expected to meet the retail approach created by Mr Brady.
“The signal has gone into the marketplace – DCUK has hired a retailer, not a car person to do this job,” said Mr Brady, who is a board member and reports to managing director Joachim Eberhardt.
“That job is to make the whole purchasing experience as good as the brand,” he said. “I see three businesses under one roof: service, parts and sales. Customers don't want to know about that – they just want to be looked after.
“At the moment, you can go to the dentist at 7pm but not necessarily pick your car up after a service. Fundamental changes need to be made – I wonder why parts departments close at noon on Saturday when many people want to shop there in the afternoon. Tesco has 24-hour trading – the car industry has been a bit slow to change.”