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Extended: Sytner to invest in Bentley as sales dip

Sytner is planning to invest at least £8m in its Bentley franchises over the next 18 months as it moves two showrooms to new locations.

Its Manchester dealership will move back to Knutsford in Cheshire creating a single site for sales and service in the second half of next year. The Birmingham outlet will move to the north of the city at a site near the Ford Dunlop complex adjacent to the M6 and will open at the end of this year.

Across the Bentley network, retailers have been opening new showrooms – seven in the past couple of years. Payback on investment was almost immediate as the brand enjoyed stronger than expected sales over the period.

This year, volumes have fallen 16%. Bentley UK managing director Geoff Dowding expects to end the year at 1,7000 units (2005: 2,096). He says: “This is down to the greater than expected success of the GT in 2004 and 2005. Now it has stabilized in the UK but growing elsewhere in the world so we have rebalanced our supply here.”

Sytner’s three sites will account for more than 15% of Bentley’s UK sales volume when fully operational. Its divisional director Richard Wynn-Jones says: “The key to success is getting the volume right for the demand. I’m pleased there has been a small fall in numbers this year because it matches demand – Bentley has taken a responsible attitude by rebalancing its supply.”

Bentley’s next phase of expansion now the retail network is complete is to look at authorised repairers. It has three, but recognises the need to appoint more as the three-year car parc rises from 5,000 to more than 6,000 at the end of this year. “We will look at service and repair in the future – we will have more capacity for aftersales,” adds Dowding.

He is also looking to develop the used car programme and improve training and communication with the retail network.

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