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New business centre network

Citroën is on the verge of completing a network of 50 business centres.

These dealers will be tasked with generating growing amounts of local community fleet sales as part of the company’s campaign to gain recognition and credibility within the sector.

Specialist business centre managers stand to earn higher wages to compensate for losing retail showroom commission. Their accredited status offers mutual benefits for the individuals and their retailers, according to Citroën head of fleet and remarketing, Ian Hughes, the scheme’s architect.

Hughes, who is driving Citroën’s wider business car initiative, says: “We are very close to having the full complement of 50 business centres on board across an even geographical spread. This covers the spectrum from rural owner-drivers to our seven predominantly urban Retail Group operations.”

He says the cost to dealers in preparing for business centre status is “variable” and depends on location, size, staff numbers and potential local fleet volumes, while Citroën’s investment in the project is “significant but not outrageous”.

Hughes adds: “The core cost to a dealer is a top-down commitment within the organization. Financially there is no flat rate but naturally they must invest something for the privilege.”

He cites a “very comprehensive three-month, seven-module training and preparation programme”, which creates marketing plans and requires the recruitment of specialized centre managers.

“The benefits of running fleet centres are holistic and interwoven into the fabric of businesses,” Hughes says.

“They range from enhanced local customer retention rates and satisfaction levels to incremental revenue across service, maintenance, bodyshop, and aftermarket departments. Equally it offers new and used car buying opportunities from the family and friends of business car buyers. It will be a slow burner.”

Hughes says that the dealer initiative is part of a process of “listening and adapting to the fleet sector’s needs”. The five- and seven-seater C4 Picasso MPVs have involved unprecedented early access for the value guide analysts and contract hire specialists.

This, Hughes says, was instrumental in improving Citroën’s residual values.

For the C4 Picassos it means “highly competitive forecast RVs at around 39% after three years and 60,000-miles with consequentially spot-on contract hire and leasing rentals”.

One marketing lever for corporate sales is Citroën having 19 models in its range with CO2 emissions levels of below 120gm/km, which qualifies smaller businesses to obtain 100% tax relief during the first year of ownership.

Citroën plans to extend its fleet-specific VTX model variants from the Xsara Picasso to the C4 by June, providing high-specification, inclusive P11D prices at favourable benefit-in-kind tax levels.

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