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Nissan’s Infiniti to be sold from separate showrooms?

Infiniti, Nissan’s premium car division, is likely to be sold through a separate network of retail outlets when it comes to the UK in 2008.

Although no final decision has been taken, the two franchises are sold from separate sites in America with their own brand identities.

Nissan executives in Britain point to Volkswagen/Audi and Toyota/Lexus as templates. Existing Nissan dealers may be given the opportunity to open adjacent showrooms.

The Japanese carmaker’s primary focus this year is launches: Murano in March, Pathfinder and 350Z roadster in April, Nevarro truck in the summer and Micra C+C in autumn.

“We have a real opportunity to grow the brand in the UK,” says Bill Bosley, Nissan GB managing director. “These new models will help us to do that. We will also be focusing on customer experience with our retail network.”

About 100 dealerships are undergoing the new showroom revamp with the remaining 126 due to start work later this year. Bosley says the new identity has been well received by retailers.

Last year sales dipped after Nissan pulled back on daily rentals. It has resulted in a better mix of fleet and private sales, and more control over used cars returning to market. Consequently residuals are expected to rise this year.

The company has also asked its dealers to stop pre-registering cars – Bosley claims the carmaker has carried out no pre-registering since he joined a year ago. “It’s confusing for customers if they come to a dealership and see new cars alongside nearly-new cars,” he says.

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