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Location and lease are key for Honda UK

Honda has seen around 30 UK dealerships change hands in the past 18 months as the Japanese manufacturer reduces the number of partners operating its dealerships.

As it looks to evolve its dealer network, the acquisition and location of showrooms becomes ever more important.

“The principal issue we are facing is finding sites in the right location and with reasonable lease agreements,” says Gordon Hunt, property director for Honda UK.

“Unfortunately the only methodology we can put in place to counter this is to play a waiting game. But we don’t only look at motor trade options, we also consider alternative sites such as industrial type units, if they are in a good location.”

A prime site for Honda is one on the edge of town and sited on a main route into the centre - a location that most manufacturers and dealer groups also strive for. It’s the best of both worlds, allowing easy access for customers who don’t have to worry about parking or traffic, and also being prominent to passing motorists.

“Even with local government trying to rebuild and regenerate high streets, that doesn’t impinge on us. The overall footprint of our dealerships has got bigger, due mainly to the increase in used car display and the average site we now look for has to be around 1.5 acres,” says Hunt.

Honda opened its first brand centre in 2001, selling cars, motorcycles and power equipment products. The site, designed to reflect the corporate policy of ‘no inconvenience to the customer’ is located at the company’s former headquarters in Chiswick, south west London. It has since opened several across the country but these sites usually require at least two acres.

Hunt adds: “There are different considerations when looking for a site for a brand centre, although it isn’t an active policy to establish these. The car business will always be the hungriest in terms of land with bikes not as much so and in terms of power equipment tools we don’t necessarily need main road frontage.”

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