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Hyundai to set up dealer council board

Hyundai Motor UK expects to have its first dealer council board in place by March as it seeks to improve relations with its retail network.

The company says much of its communication with dealers happens on an ad hoc basis and with individual companies. It now plans to have a structured board for the first time with sub-committees that can focus on specific topics concerning the network.

The first board of dealers will be appointed by Hyundai, but future representatives will be voted in by the network.

“We have to have an open and transparent relationship with the retail network,” says Tony Whitehorn, Hyundai Motor UK managing director. “That means we want a board that will be challenging and outspoken; we don’t want one that will be in our pocket.”

Topping the agenda for the first board meeting is likely to be the new corporate identity that Hyundai plans to roll out later this year, including new signage for the frontage and totem poles.

The company wants a consistent look throughout the network, but recognizes that it cannot burden dealers with high overheads.

“That means sensible investment to create a nice environment, and some training for staff on customer handling,” says Whitehorn.

Retailers will be relieved to hear confirmation that the two-tier retail strategy introduced last year has been shelved. “We want dealers to attract customers through the level of service they offer, not by being able to offer a lower price than others in the network because they get a better deal from us,” he says. “That means allowing them to compete on a level playing field.”

Hyundai has a number of open points that it plans to gradually fill over the next few years. It hopes to add 15 dealers to take the network to 166 by the end of this year, rising to 189 by 2010. A growing network, combined with new product, is key to Hyundai achieving its 70,000 sales by 2008 (2005: 36,640).

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