AM Online

VW axe falls on Hartwell group

Hartwell is losing its four Volkswagen car franchises as the manufacturer continues a shake-up of its network. This follows the departure of the Kent-based Whitehouse Group and other changes seem likely.

Spencer Clayton-Jones, VW’s new national franchise manager, says: “These moves come as part of a long-term representation and brand strategy which is designed to ensure our entire network provides customers with the service they demand and require.”

Clayton-Jones will not be more specific about the areas where VW found Hartwell and Whitehouse lacking. The exact terms of the termination and the timing have not been disclosed.

For £675m turnover Hartwell, ranked No 12 in the AM100, Volkswagen’s decision is a serious setback. VW is Hartwell’s fourth most important brand after Ford (16 outlets) and Vauxhall (10).

Hartwell represents eight other brands. Its four VW sites include Hartwell Smithfield near the centre of Birmingham which includes VW van and Audi outlets.

Another is Hartwell Cardiff which also has Citroen, though an announcement is expected soon to confirm the termination of the franchise. Hartwell Newport has Audi in addition to VW and the Hartwell Warrington site shares VW car and van centres.

The company declined to comment on the terminations.

Whitehouse Group, which gives up its VW franchises in Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells this month, has been granted authorised repairer status by VW and will open a specialist site in Tonbridge. It also retains the VW LCV franchise in Tonbridge in an about-turn by VW.

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