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Dealer groups strengthen grip on new car retailing

Dealer groups have further strengthened their grip on new car retailing and now control over 71% of the UK’s new car sales points. The number of franchise outlets have fallen to 5,490, the lowest number since analysis began in 1976.

Franchise Networks 2007 also reveals a further fall in franchise outlets to 5,490, which is the lowest since the first annual study in 1976.

The study of the structure and sales performance of the dealer networks of UK manufacturers and importers is in the Sewells’ Franchise Networks 2007 report, which offers newly-published market intelligence and bespoke research to provide a wide-ranging review of recent industry trends and key factors driving the UK retail motor industry.

The latest franchise networks study reflects upon continued consolidation in the UK new car market and the growing influence dealer groups have on the retail motor industry. While dealer groups now control over 71% of the UK’s franchise points, nearly one-quarter of the country’s 5,490 franchise outlets are in the hands of the ‘top 20’ groups.

Manufacturers are, therefore, relying on dealer groups to distribute their cars more than ever. Across all franchises, Mercedes-Benz has the highest group representation at 98.6% followed by Audi with 97.6% of its sales points in the hands of dealer groups. Peripheral franchises like Proton, Daihatsu, Isuzu and Subaru appear to be unattractive to dealer groups. However, Skoda and Suzuki are seeing rising interest with the largest increases in group representation, 2005/2006.

Revisions to Block Exemption were expected to see an explosion in the number of independent authorised repairers. However, the Sewells’ report reveals an increase of only 123 sites between 2005 and 2006.

High volume marques attracted more independent authorised repairers to their networks in 2006 as they continue to offer larger car parcs, and hence the opportunity of enough business to justify the cost of meeting manufacturers’ exacting standards for approval. Ford, Citroën and Vauxhall dominate the ‘top 10’ authorised repairer networks. Ford leads with 99 authorised repairers, followed by Citroën with 66 sites and Vauxhall with 63.

As manufacturers look into 2007, very few predict their authorised repairer networks will grow by any significant amounts. Skoda anticipates its approved repairer network will grow by 13 sites to 48 authorised repairers by the end of 2007, with Nissan adding nine sites to its 13 approved repairers. For more information call Berta Collins on 01733 468270 or email berta.collins@emap.com.

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