Ed Swatman, chief executive of importer International Motors, has seen sales of Subaru slump from more than 9700 in 2001 to a predicted 8500 this year. But he is ready to come out fighting, predicting “we'll be closer to 10,000 next year and within five years we'll have doubled our sales”.
Swatman places the blame for the company's slump on press leaks over the look of the new Subaru - which hit sales of the current model - plus the early announcement of the Forrester nine months before it goes on UK sale.
“When the new Impreza enters the UK showrooms in February, the excuses will have run out,” he says. “There will be no hiding place.”
Subaru is likely to add 30 to 40 dealers to its 100-strong network over the next couple of years to meet the expected increase in sales.
“We need to improve nationwide coverage because there is a limit to how far an individual is willing to travel to visit a dealer.
“But we will not compromise on our dealership quality,” adds Swatman.