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Skoda gets serious about fleet

Skoda UK is to double the number of field staff in its head office business sales teams to six as the latest phase in its programme to become a leading company car brand.

One member will speccialise in national contract hire and leasing company deals.

Business sales centres within franchised dealerships will be increased by 10 to 40 with the additions located in metropolitan areas.

Skoda’s business registrations rose from 1,273 in 1998 to more than 10,000 last year, and the company expects further growth. Martin Burke, newly appointed head of business sales at Skoda UK, says: “We aim to become a serious contender in the fleet sales market, where managers need more than just a reliable car on their lists.

“They’re looking at the whole package, from low running costs to the right customer support. Fleet managers can talk directly by phone to a business centre and get what they want.”

John Rooney, who is working alongside Burke during a changeover period, says Octavia enabled Skoda to enter the fleet market. “The new model provides the real volume opportunity, and the new 180bhp Octavia hatch and estate will be available later in the year,” he says.

“Our campaign of demonstration drives will continue because there is little resistance to the brand once we have drivers behind the wheel.”

Fleets can take cars to non-franchised workshops, so Skoda must convince customers of the benefits of servicing work within the franchised network, says Rooney. “The used market will be able to absorb Skodas coming off fleets without an adverse effect on residuals,” he says.

Rooney is moving to Volkswagen Group UK vehicle logistics as a project leader where he will explore efficiencies in factory-to-retailer processes.

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