With a cluster of new and revised models due in the next two years, the importer wants to check its retailers are up to scratch and investing to meet the showroom requirements it introduced last year.
“In terms of making sure we have good dealers, good franchises and good locations, time is running out,” says Kevin Jones, Alfa’s dealer development director. “Our dealers have to decide whether they want to invest in the new corporate showroom in order to sell our new range.”
Alfa received much praise last year for its latest GT. This year the 147 hatchback will receive a facelift, then in 2006 showrooms will begin stocking the 157 saloon and the Brera, a replacement for the elderly GTV coupe.
Jones concedes Alfa will never sell huge volumes, but as a niche brand its strength is offering something “a cut above” its volume rivals, he says. The network is currently 75-strong, but three more will open this year, in south-west London, Guernsey and Brighouse, Yorks. All will be sited alongside other franchises.
Jones has also identified a number of priority-fill open points, including Coventry, Liverpool, Peterborough/Cambridge, Watford, Southampton and York.
Jose Garvia took over as head of Fiat Auto UK this month, replacing Alfa boss Andrew Lester and Fiat head Massimo Toso. Jones says this is not a sign that the Fiat and Alfa brands will retail closer together, although some back-room operations such as finance, marketing and administration may be shared.