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MG and Rover to separate

MG Rover is calling on dealers to separate the MG and Rover sales areas in the showroom and refrain from joint-brand advertising as it seeks to create clear differentiation and tackle an alarming sales slide.

The company admits its performance in 2004 is unacceptable, taking just 3% of the market at 78,000 units.

It plans to strengthen the Rover brand with price cuts and generous additional spec and is looking to add about 30 retailers to the network – which is down by six on 2003 at 262 outlets – but has no plans to add to its nine wholly-owned sites.

The network will be expected to create clearly defined sales areas for MG and Rover. MGR says it will not cost a “huge amount of money”, but the concept will put MG models in one part and Rovers in another section of the showroom, each with its own ambience and different coloured seating.

“We have allowed some blurring between the two brands, MG and Rover,” says MGR head of public relations Dan Ward. “People think there is a car called the MG Rover. We need two distinct brands: MG is a younger brand with a higher proportion of female buyers.”

He concedes that “on occasions” people have been disappointed when purchasing a Rover because the specification has been reduced to match a lower price.

Consequently the entry level 25 will now come with leather seating, alloys, colour-keyed mirrors and other features “expected of Rover”, while every 45 will have leather, a CD player, alloys and park distance control. Spec will also be added to the 75 range.

The price of the entry-level CityRover has been cut to £5,995 and equipment added after the model sold just 6,000 of its 20,000 UK target.

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