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Number of new car dealers hits record low

The number of franchised new car sales outlets in the UK has fallen to the lowest amount in 30 years, according to the latest Sewells Franchise Networks report.

It shows there were 5,644 new car sales outlets last year, compared to 5,927 in 2004.

“Although the demise of the MG Rover network has seen many dealers leave the trade altogether, it does present remaining sites with the opportunity to develop a franchise with other ambitious marques. In this respect, Franchise Networks includes research on open points that vehicle manufacturers wish to fill throughout the UK,” said Sewells.

Sewells reflects on the loss of the MG Rover dealer network and its influence on the overall fall in the total number of franchised dealer points. However, existing MG Rover dealers are not included in the report, as the network can only be described as one which sells nearly-new or used cars.

Franchise Networks 2006 also provides an overview of the new and used car markets, for both the UK and for Europe. For new cars, the UK statistics include analysis by make, car segments, top-selling makes and models, fleet sales, and car parc. Similar statistics are also included for Europe.

Pendragon strengthens its grip

Who Owns Who, the Sewells dealer directory, and Franchise Networks reveal how the structure and shape of the ‘top 20’ UK dealer groups continues to change as acquisition and organic expansion ensured growth in 2005. The ‘top 20’ groups now control 1,255 new car franchise points compared with 1,252 at the end of 2004.

Pendragon stretched out its lead over the rest of the ‘top twenty’ with the acquisition of smaller operations in 2005. However, Pendragon’s recent purchase of Reg Vardy is not included because this happened in early 2006. When Reg Vardy is integrated within Pendragon, the group will have over 300 sites, 350 franchises and a turnover of over £5 billion. The report notes that Pendragon will then have increased its vehicle manufacturer partnerships considerably. For example, the group will account for a third of Jaguar’s dealer network and half its sales volumes as well as 45% of Land Rovers’ distribution network.

No explosion of authorised repairers since BER changes

At the end of 2005, there were 616 ‘authorised repairers’ in the UK. It was hoped that changes to Block Exemption would create an explosion of authorised repairers, but the number at the end of 2005 had only increased by 105 sites on 2004.

High volume marques continued to attract approved repairers as they offer larger car parcs and the opportunity of enough business to justify the cost of meeting vehicle manufacturer’s exacting standards. Citroen, Ford and Vauxhall dominate the ‘top 10’ authorised repairer networks, with Citroen leading with seventy-three authorised repairers.

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