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Supply plans gather pace

Manufacturers are holding informal talks about sharing resources in order to drive forward a new initiative designed to improve customer service.

In a bid to ensure dealers are not kept waiting for parts, manufacturers want to move away from central warehouses towards local distribution centres offering multiple daily deliveries.

With warehouse space at a premium and dealers often based close to each other, companies are considering shared premises as the most cost-effective way of introducing services.

Although they may be rivals on the showroom floor, when it comes to servicing and aftermarket care, there is less likely to be conflict.

Steve Nash, group aftersales director BMW and Mini, said: “With such a large and growing inventory, currently about 60,000 lines, it makes sense to decentralise.

“We have had an open dialogue with other manufacturers about this. Informally, we have come to the conclusion that if you are looking for a warehouse in the one area, along with another manufacturer, then there is no point both paying for a different warehouse.

“I am not competing with other manufacturers at this stage. We share a view and there is strong potential for agreement. As long as I get the end result and get efficient logistics, I don’t really care whether my oil filter is next to someone else’s.”

Peter Smith, ownership and product manager for Volvo, which has recently completed the launch of its local distribution system, told AM: “We don’t own the warehouses we use and, in principle, would have no problem sharing space with other manufacturers. It’s a warehouse and it’s run by a third-party provider.

“The critical thing is logistics. If you are delivering to a time window, you must meet that commitment. Our vans are running at capacity.”

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