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Competing brands work well for PSA

PSA is confident that having Peugeot and Citroen, two competing brands, gives it an advantage over French rival Renault and multi-marque groups such as DaimlerChrysler and Toyota.

“When a Peugeot model is at mid-life, we can introduce a new Citroen,” says Yann Delabriere, chief financial officer. “There is no similar connection between models in the Mercedes and Chrysler ranges, or Toyota/Lexus.”

Delabriere was speaking in London, where with chief executive officer Jean-Martin Folz he talked about PSA’s 2004 results.

Prospects for this year are based on PSA having “two strong and differentiated brands”, with Peugeots and Citroens “complementary in terms of styling”. The group’s weakness is that it lacks a distinctive top model or a competitor in the SUV market (it must wait until 2007 to sell a Mitsubishi-sourced model).

Last year, PSA sold 3.375m units (3.286m in 2003) and its net profit was £939m (£1.04bn in 2003). Raw material costs are expected to more than double this year to £175m, mainly due to the rising price of steel.

Folz says PSA met its target of matching 2003’s operating profit margin of £1.5bn despite the growing use of promotional offers in western Europe.

The group relies heavily on the 206, Europe’s best-selling supermini. The model will be assembled only at Ryton, Coventry, as sales continue alongside its eventual successor, the 207.

Folz will not specify a minimum period for further 206 production – he blames Brussels for Ryton not getting the 207 – and adds: “Sales success in a country is not necessarily linked to manufacturing cars there.”

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