AM Online

Dealer boss defends VW

The dealer boss who leads network discussions with Volkswagen in the UK is trying to help restore calm after bitter criticism of the manufacturer by some of his colleagues.

John Cook, managing director of Heritage Automotive, which has Volkswagen car and light commercial and Audi dealerships in the south-west, is defending Paul Willis, Volkswagen’s UK director, who has been accused of harming their partnership relationship.

A number of VW dealers, who do not want to be named, say it is difficult to make money out of the brand, which they believe is being devalued by bulk sales to retailers attracting discounts in some cases of 30% or more. There are also concerns about VW production quality.

Rumblings of discontent turned into more vocal protests following VW’s decision to end contracts with Whitehouse and Hartwell. No reasons were given, but the axings have left some retailers feeling ill at ease.

Cook, chairman of the VW business development group, says: “Paul Willis and his team share our passion for continuing to improve the VW brand proposition. While there will always be some retailers who are unhappy about something, we in the network have outstanding future prospects with Volkswagen.”

AM’s report (September 10) on the protests was circulated at this month’s meeting between VW and the network representatives.

One VW dealer says: “AM was spot-on, though the depth of feeling in the network is even stronger than the report suggested. Many of us want Paul Willis to go.”

Robin Woolcock, MD of VW UK, has staunchly defended Willis, who he says is doing a good job at a time of intense competition.

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