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Nissan network told to pay to boost image and sales

Nissan is asking its retailers to spend tens of thousands of pounds on upgrading their showrooms. The Japanese carmaker says the move will help revamp its corporate image and boost sales.

It is also planning to role out its business centre concept across the network to help improve sales of light commercial vehicles. But top of the list is signage featuring the new chrome logo that replaces the old blue one. The makeover then moves inside with new point-of-sale material and counter stands.

About 26 dealers will make the switch this year and another 75 sites plan to upgrade in 2004. All 234 sites are expected to have made the changes by 2006. Simon Thomas, Nissan UK sales director, says: “This is not just a paint job; this is a full upgrade.”

Costs for the signage are subsidised by 50 per cent but dealers will have to pay fully for the interior. New signage for a typical site will cost between £30,000 and £32,000 so dealer will pay about £16,000.

An interior upgrade is expected to cost dealers £25,000. This includes new lights and tiles as well as reception desks and cladding.

The refurbishment programme is all part of Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn's '180 plan' to turn round the company. Part of this strategy is creating a strong brand image based around a core DNA. Ghosn says the Nissan brand means different things to different people across the globe, but he wants the Nissan message to be common in every market.

In Britain, sales are on a high with X-trail volumes up 70 per cent year on year to 9000 units. Micra is also up 18 per cent to 50,000 plus while all 800 350Z have sold out. Sales of light commercials are also up this year from 6000 to 9000.

Nissan wants to keep up the momentum by rolling out its business centre concept so that all dealers will sell vans. The company currently has 50 business centres as part of its network – one in five.

Joining the network requires all dealers to have a demonstrator light commercial vehicles, display space and at least one van specialist on site. The aim is to sell 12,000 vans next year – effectively doubling Nissan's LCV sales in 24 months.

Retailers have also been asked to invest in Project Inspire, a pan-European training initiative aimed at improving customer relationship management. The programme will cover all major customer touch points such as product presentation and vehicle handover. Dealers are to share costs with Nissan.

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