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UK Fiat boss takes to road to meet dealers

New Fiat Group Automobiles UK managing director Andrew Humberstone will be visiting each of the Italian brand’s UK dealers over the next three months to forge better relations with its retail network.

Humberstone also plans to invite customers to lunch as part of moves to improve the perception of Fiat’s products and services. “It is so easy for people like me to take the helicopter view of business without actually coming into contact with the people on the ground,” Humberstone told AM.

“I think I can add much more value to the operation if I avoid all the usual filters and get out there to find out what people actually think about Fiat. I don’t want to lose touch with reality.”

The moves come as Humberstone, who left his job managing Nanjing Fiat and Fiat Auto Group in China a few weeks ago, revealed he is to spend £5.5 million to launch the new 500 supermini model here.

In an exclusive interview, he said a major component of last week’s launch was a live feed of the event to each of his 169 dealers.

“It was crucially important that they should be involved in this major effort to reposition the brand. I didn’t want it to be merely a London-based event.”

Humberstone admitted that the dealer network had undergone “a lot of cleansing” in the past few months and said a quantum leap was now needed in the approach and attitude to the Fiat badge and the brand.

“My aim is for the network to grow to 185 outlets by the end of this year and reach 200 in 2009. My target is partnership – we need to get the right internal communications and we need to have the right relationship with our dealers and our customers,” he said.

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