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'No resistance' to UK repair satellite plans

Renault is planning to open more than 150 satellite service and repair sites during the next three years to accommodate its growing vehicle parc.

The French carmaker is in talks with its retailer partners and independent garages and hopes to have 50 of these service sites open across the UK by the end of the year.

Currently, Renault has about 1.5m cars on UK roads but expects this to grow to 1.9m over the next three years.

While two ex-dealers are setting up sites at present, Renault expects about 90% of repairers to be new to the franchise and has already received 100 applications for authorised repairer status.

Satellite servicing sites could take the form of a Renault Minute fast-fit operation or simply a van or car repair centre located on an industrial estate on the outskirts of towns. All satellite sites will have to meet pre-determined standards like having specified tools, signage and staff training.

First refusal for opening these sites goes to existing dealer partners. If they cannot meet the requirements then the door will open to dealers in the surrounding area. Independent garages could also be contracted to local dealerships to provide additional repair capacity or authorised repairers could open sites with a direct contract for the manufacturer.

And Renault is not ruling out the possibility of offering these service sites new car sales contracts, according to franchise director Andy Cockeram. “Some of these sites may have new car sales but in the main we are focusing on servicing – anything extra is a bonus,” he says.

But Cockerham does not believe that rebel garages will fight the manufacturer's plans. Despite evidence that unhappy dealers would work to put rival servicing points out of business, Cockeram says retailers have not raised these concerns at meetings with the manufacturer.

“There has been no resistance whatsoever when we have been in discussions with dealers about the direction in which the business is going,” Cockeram says. He adds that major dealer groups including Reg Vardy, Arnold Clark and the Camden Motor Group are already making investment in the sites.

Stand-alone service centres should help to reduce congestion, keep out-of-warranty cars in the network and boost customer retention.

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