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Ferrari to build new UK HQ

Ferrari Maserati UK is building a new base in Slough from where it will operate its importation business from October, following its withdrawal of distribution rights for the marques from Maranello Concessionaires.

A spokesman for the company says that over the next three to four weeks the operation will be transferred from Egham to the new premises. It will be similar in size to the current importership, employing around 40 people. Declining to comment on the company’s plans for the marques in the UK, he says the main priority is to ensure a smooth transition.

The loss means up to 30 redundancies at Maranello, a subsidiary of Inchcape plc, although the company is hopeful that some of its staff may be taken on by Ferrari UK and others may be found positions elsewhere in the group. It will continue to manage Ferrari’s spare parts business until September 30 2005. Its Ferrari and Maserati retail operation, Maranello Sales Ltd, which has showrooms in Egham, Sevenoaks and St Albans, remains unaffected.Opening further dealerships has not been ruled out.

Despite the loss equating to a drop of between £2-3m operating profit for Inchcape, its spokeswoman insists there is no significant impact on the business overall. “We are fortunate in having a geographical spread of solid businesses that cushion the impact of something like this. Our key markets are seeing quite good trading conditions,” she says.

“We are focusing now on improving our retail margins as well as on expanding. All this activity will further cushion the loss of the Ferrari/ Maserati business.”

The spokeswoman says there will be at most 30 redundancies within the import/distribution business as a result of the switch: “We are in discussions with Ferrari about whether they are going to take any of our staff, and we are also speaking to people about redeployment opportunities within Inchcape UK. There will be some redundancies, but it is too early to say how many.”

Peter Cooke, kpmg professor of automotive industries management at Nottingham Business School, believes vehicle manufacturers will inevitably want to take back distribution.

“It’s logical that manufacturers should control that first tier of distribution and their own national sales companies, rather than have an independent do it on their behalf. It gives them tighter control of the market, and better profitability,” he says.

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