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Hyundai to build own dealership in North London

Hyundai is poised to start work on a new showpiece dealership in North London which it will own and run itself. The move, a departure from the Korean brand’s sale and leaseback approach to closing UK open points, could be extended to other high-cost conurbations to fill franchising gaps, with the south London/ Croydon area a possibility.

The site, at three-quarters of an acre, will be one of the largest in Europe and will accommodate a 4,000 sq ft, 10-car showroom plus parking for 30 used cars. It will cost £2m to build and is scheduled to open in June 2005. Contracts for the land, at West Hendon, are about to be signed, according to the company.

“This will be our flagship showroom and will replace our existing Lex West End site in Gloucester Place,” says a Hyundai spokesman. “We will own and run it due to the cost of land in that area and it will be the template that shows what the new generation of Hyundai franchised dealerships will look like.”

A growing number of carmakers operate wholly-owned dealerships, including AM100-listed DaimlerChrysler, Renault Retail, Robins & Day (Peugeot), Ford Retail and Porsche. More recently MG Rover purchased a showroom after Diamond in Hatfield went out of business.

Hyundai sister brand Kia, which itself entered automotive retail last year with the purchase of Bolton Kia, has this week launched its first national TV campaign in the UK, dubbed ‘Think about it’, as it looks to sustain record sales growth (up 48% at 11,631 units). The move – which involves using computer-animated characters to promote the cars – fits in with Hyundai’s strategy to clearly define both product lines. Kia will become the sporty brand.

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