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Lookers welcomes Block Exemption changes

Fred Maguire, Lookers executive chairman, has welcomed the European Commission's draft proposals for car retailing.

He said"In general, I welcome the new proposals which will be good for the motor retail industry and for our customers. The Commission has recognised the present franchised structure works well and has not dramatically changed it."

On multi-franchising:

"Multi-franchising already exists. Lookers plc owns the largest multi-franchise site in Europe at Charles Hurst in Belfast. But multi-franchising from the same showroom would make car retailing similar to white goods retailing – you would lose the expertise to explain the benefits of each product to the customer. Customers would be confused. I can't see it working."

On separate aftersales:

"Lookers will always offers its customers a full aftersales service – it is part of our Customers for Life philosophy and we believe customers want it."

On increased competition in aftersales:

"We welcome the opening up of the aftersales market and would look forward to providing Lookers award-winning aftersales service on a multi-franchise basis. We recognise the huge investment independent repair shops will have to make to match the expertise of the franchised dealer network."

On supermarket and internet sales:

"We welcome the fact the Commission has recognised the loss of consumer choice that would result from allowing supermarkets or internet-only sellers to cherry-pick the market. Lookers already operates its own, highly successful internet sales site to offer national sales coverage."

On falling prices:

"Prices are already falling and will continue to fall – but not as a result of this particular legislation. Customers today are looking for a good deal and they will get it from franchised dealers, such as Lookers. We have to be competitive in the market place and ensure we retain our customers for life."

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