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Renault rebels will fight garages

Renault UK dealers are opposing the manufacturer's suggestion that they should assist companies opening independent service points in their territories.

One Renault UK dealer, who asked not to be named, says: “Renault wants us to support these outlets by providing parts but many of us are refusing to do this. We cannot see any advantage and do not believe this concept could work satisfactorily. We would have no control over these independents.”

AM sister organisation Sewells Information & Research revealed Renault UK's plans to increase its market penetration. Renault wants 49 new satellite points by the end of the year, 11 sub-dealers and five authorised repairers.

Sewells' forecast changes to network sizes include a growth of service-authorised repairers among most manufacturers, led by Fiat with 16, Volvo (14), and Ford and Peugeot (10 apiece). Latest block exemption rules encourage independent firms to provide servicing in competition with a manufacturer's dealer network. The EU wants to break down the traditional link between sales and servicing because it believes this will stimulate greater competition and benefit consumers.

But it seems Renault's retail network is preparing to stymie any competition from independents. “Aftersales is an important component of our turnover and profit, as it is for many dealers. If anyone opens a service point in our area, we will do all we can to put it out of business,” says a senior retail executive. “Other Renault dealers feel equally strongly and it looks as though good new independents may only take business from other non-franchised service providers.”

Four years ago, following the tie-up with Nissan, Renault decided to create 50 to 65 'hub' territories in the UK with one dealer group operating all outlets for both carmakers. It set an example by merging the Nissan-owned Aprite chain with Renault Retail, its own network.

According to Renault dealers, there is little enthusiasm among the network to follow suit, despite the apparent advantage of higher sales as a way to cut costs per unit sold.

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