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Cleland to keep Volvo in the fold

Volvo Car UK has been better informed about life in the showroom since a dealer council took over from its franchised executive committee earlier this year. But the car company's executives will be hearing a lot more from retailers in future, according to the senior members of the network.

“Communications are vital in any business and car retailing is no exception. Keeping the lines open between the company and our members is my top priority,” says council chairman John Cleland.

A professional racing driver until 1999 and twice winner of the BTCC, Cleland has been running an award-winning Volvo dealership in Galashiels since 1989. Bolstered by the addition of a Jaguar outlet two years ago, his business now has a £20m turnover.

“Volvo has a long way to go and I'm planning to grow along with it in future. But the bottom line has to be making a profit. As an independent, I'm a hands-on dealer principal who is involved in day to day matters,” says Cleland. “When you spend your own money rather than make use of corporate funding, you tend to have passionate views. I'm passionate about communications – and the more we can talk to Volvo, the better it will be for the network,” he says.

Cleland, a former member of the executive committee, hopes the recognition he won on the racetrack will further his cause for the 160-strong dealer council. “Being based in Scotland means I spend a lot of time flying to meetings in England – but it was just the same when I was racing,” he says. “Distance is no longer an excuse for not keeping in contact, and that is certainly what I will be doing on behalf of the council. Because it was never formally constituted, the old executive committee had no teeth. I aim to prove that is no longer the situation.”

Volvo sales to November have slipped 6.6 per cent to 36,062 units.

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