The strategy has been developed around three showcase and sales formats - Brand Centres, City Centres, and Unlimited Partners - and is intended to give Saab retail sites a distinctive and consistent visual identity.
Retailers are awarded Unlimited Partner status once they reach set standards in terms of premises, people, process and product. The City Centres are new car-only shopfront sites in prime retail areas and run by a nearby Unlimited Partner. The Brand Centres will be outlets specialising primarily in merchandising and situated in high pedestrian traffic areas such as airports and major shopping centres.
So far 12 of Saab's 96 retail sites have been upgraded, with eight now fully certified as Unlimited Partners. The first UK City Centre, Saab Piccadilly, was opened in London on May 13. Saab GB managing director Jonathan Nash says upgrading of the entire UK retail network will be complete by the end of next year.
Saab Automobile vice-president of sales and marketing Mikael Eliasson says the strategy is designed to ensure Saab is properly perceived as a premium brand as the company rolls out its all-new 9-3 saloon later this year.
“To be honest the Saab retail network does not yet support the brand promise,” admits Eliasson, who says the UK initiative is just part of an ambitious program that aims to have 80 per cent of Saab's dealers worldwide upgraded to Unlimited Partner status by the end of 2004.