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Clutch business improves offering

Mr Clutch Autocentres is preparing to go head-to-head against franchised dealerships after expanding its service offering.

The growth has seen the 44-site garage services chain more than double the amount required from those wishing to invest in a Mr Clutch Autocentres’ franchise.

Changes in the motor maintenance and repair sector led company directors to re-examine its positioning in the market and completely overhaul its franchise model.

Financial director Trevor Steel said: "Increasing numbers of people now own newer, better quality, high value cars. Although they tend to take these cars to the main dealers for servicing while they're still under warranty, they want somewhere credible to get their annual service and maintenance once the car is out of warranty.

"New rules arising out of the EU block exemptions will allow us to compete against the main dealers for service business and possibly warranty work in the future. This in turn will allow us the opportunity to attract fleet work as our network grows.”

As a result, the company has extended its offering beyond clutch and transmission services. All its centres now offer MoTs and are geared to attracting regular, repeat business from customers.

The move upmarket means that investment levels have also increased. Franchisees who were previously required to invest around £35,000 are now faced with an entry level investment of around £75,000.

Steel is adamant that the hike will bring far higher returns for interested parties.

"The sites that we are now opening are bigger, better and on a par with the standards of main dealers. They will be places that customers want to visit,” he said.

Established over 25 years ago, Mr Clutch Autocentres first entered franchising in 1990. Today the company has 16 wholly owned autocentres and 28 franchised outlets in England and Wales. Two new franchises will open in Hemel Hempstead and Canterbury before the end of the year.

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