The summer 2007 dealer attitude survey by the National Franchised Dealers Association revealed a sharp downturn in Mercedes dealers’ appreciation of the value of the franchise. Compared to winter 2006, retailers’ responses showed they were less happy with marketing support, current profitability and future potential, vehicle supply, incentives and communication with the manufacturer.
The survey received responses from 59% of the Mercedes retail network.
Talking to AM, Dermot Kelly, head of Mercedes Car Group, maintained the network’s outlook is positive. He added: “Dealers have spent £500m in new facilities for Mercedes-Benz and they wouldn’t have done that if they don’t feel that there’s a long-term return in the brand.”
Kelly said sales have been relatively flat this year for Mercedes, due to its focus on retail, while competing brands have pushed volumes through corporate sales.
But he expects new customers to be attracted by this month’s introduction of the C180 and C200, important entry models in the C-Class range, and the Smart ForTwo. Niche high performance products such as the CLK and SLK Black Series, and the forthcoming AMG C63 estate, are also creating interest in the brand, Kelly said.
“The retailers are challenged on profitability this year, but if we set the squeeze in context we’re probably doing better than most. We’ve had 11 years of positive growth, that’s never happened before in post-war Britain.”