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Mini flagship sets template

The largest solus Mini dealership in the world opened in London’s Park Lane this week at a cost of £1.75m.

The BMW-owned outlet, which will serve as a flagship for the brand, represents the new generation of Mini showroom that will stand alone from its parent company.

Trevor Houghton-Berry, Mini GB general manager, says showroom sharing with BMW was planned to continue only while the younger brand was established.

“With Mini now a tremendous success from a commercial point of view it makes sense to have its own outlets,” he adds.

“The investment in Park Lane shows Mini has established its own foothold – we now have a 1.7% share of the market – and unlike some other brands which have been high on style and short on substance, Mini has a longevity about it.”

As of this month, 40 of Mini’s 152-strong dealer network have developed standalone outlets from BMW. Yet despite this growing separation, which is being encouraged by Mini’s head office, Houghton-Berry rules out allowing dealer groups to acquire a Mini franchise if they do not also represent the prestige parent, as the aftersales service will continue to be shared. “That will not change in the short to medium term,” he says.

The Park Lane outlet has space for 14 cars and a workforce of 14, of which eight are sales staff. It is expected to sell 1,200 new and used cars next year.

Following extension of the interior, the showroom now has four defined areas: the standard Mini range, Cooper Works cars, accessories and the company’s ‘Cherished’ used car programme. This sets a template for other Mini outlets.

Servicing and aftersales is undertaken at the Nine Elms BMW dealership in nearby Vauxhall.

The opening comes the same week as Mini announced that, from January 1, 2005, it will offer an extended servicing package. Called tlc XL, it provides new buyers with eight years/80,000 miles servicing for £450. Existing Mini owners with the five-year tlc package can opt to buy a further three years/30,000 miles for £300.

More standalone dealerships are in the pipeline. HR Owen will open a new £1.5m showroom over the road from its existing Mini franchise at Heathrow in March, 2005.

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