David Thomas, Volvo Car UK network development manager, says it is important for manufacturers to have retail areas that customers find appealing. “We are retaining the Scandinavian feel introduced in the 1990s but need to bring the atmosphere and textures up to date,” he adds.
“About 95% of our outlets have the current look and we have explained the need for change to our dealer council. The members understand the importance of staying up-to-date but they naturally need to consider the cost.”
Volvo is testing the new look at its international sales showroom in Gothenburg and at a dealership in Paris. The changes will be piloted at three UK dealerships (in the south of England, the east Midlands and in Scotland) by the end of the year.
The changes for the UK network are likely to be relatively minor, and Volvo's stand at this month's Motor Show Live will present a hint of how its dealerships will look in the future, says Thomas.
It is believed that Ford's Premier Automotive Group wants its three premium car brands – Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover – to have compatible but distinctively different showrooms.
This is seen as important because of retail sites where two or more of the brands are together. “The policy of having separate entrances will continue but we also want customers to be able to move easily from one showroom to another,” says Thomas.