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Colt will help dealers to open in high-cost areas

A reluctance to allow plcs and large groups to represent its brand combined with a need to fill open points in high-cost city areas is behind Mitsubishi importer Colt Car Company’s decision to launch a sponsored dealer programme.

The first supported outlet is scheduled to open in Edinburgh by the end of 2008.

Richard Weller, general manager of network development, told AM that proposals for another four dealerships had been approved by its partner, Mitsubishi Motor Corporation. They include London and Birmingham. All four should be operating within two to three years.

“We like to partner owner-driven, small family businesses that live and work in their local community. We specifically don’t target large groups and plcs,” he said.

“That’s worked well for us, but the difficulty that’s created is in terms of urban representation, where there’s increasing dominance by the large groups which are buying the smaller dealers.

“There are fewer people we can deal with that fit our profile. It comes down to us being able to acquire sites to rent to suitable partners.”

The company has been discouraged by some multi-franchised dealers which have concentrated on their larger franchises at Mitsubishi’s expense. Some do perform well for Mitsubishi, but Weller said the company prefers single-site outlets which can keep a focus on the brand.

Sponsored dealers will be appointed under a normal two-year rolling franchise contract. They will pay a concessionary rent and receive marketing support while the dealership becomes established, after which it will pay a normal rent, said Weller. In some very high cost locations, Colt Car Company may continue to subsidise the rent to keep the business viable.

He hopes the programme will encourage existing Mitsubishi dealers to consider expansion, or provide opportunities for dealer employed senior management to take on their own business.

Weller said the Edinburgh dealership will be operated by an existing Mitsubishi franchise partner. It was previously represented in Edinburgh by Eastern Western Motor Group.

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