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Citroën buys seventh outlet

Citroën has expanded its wholly-owned retail network to seven dealerships after this week purchasing a former MG Rover site in Coventry from the Phoenix Venture Holdings administrator.

The multi-million pound deal fills a long-standing open point and will become Citroën Retail Group’s largest dealership.

The two-storey facility is due to open in April and will incorporate a 10-car showroom, two-van business centres, a 12-bay workshop, 65-car used display and 60 customer parking spaces.

Coventry becomes Citroën’s first dealership purchase for 10 years. But the carmaker, which also owns sites in London (two), Manchester (two), Birmingham and Glasgow, does not rule out further expansion as it looks to fill around 30 open points.

“Citroën is looking at its retail group to be represented in the major urban conurbations if an opportunity arises,” says Citroën public affairs director Marc Raven. “We have had no representation in Coventry for some time and we wanted to fill that gap. The opportunity was there and we wanted the right representation so we did it ourselves.”

Turnover at the Coventry dealership is expected to be around £18m this year, rising to £25m-30m in 2008. It will take Citroën Retail Group turnover to more than £200m this year, moving it up a couple of places in the AM100 (currently No 44).

Last year the group – which Citroën insists is profitable – sold close to 11,000 new cars, just over 11% of Citroën’s UK total volume.

Open points for Citroën include Slough, Croydon, north Leeds, north Bristol, Newbury, Guildford and Kingston (London). Last year it added nine franchised dealerships, taking the sales network to 206 outlets. This year it expects to plug a further 10 open points.

Citroën is one of eight manufacturers that owns its own sites; the others are DaimlerChrysler (37 sites), Ford (56), Renault (21), Peugeot (38), Porsche (five), Nissan (11) and Mitsubishi (eight).

Critics claim few are able to turn a profit from their wholly-owned retail businesses, though it’s difficult to know because details are not available.

Phoenix Venture Holdings operated 11 sites at the time of MG Rover’s collapse in 2005.

Administrators Price-WaterhouseCoopers closed most of them. Vantage Group bought the last site to remain trading in September 2005.

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