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Lookers considers dual-franchising

Lookers is considering inserting Nissan franchises alongside its Renault dealerships in an attempt to improve the company’s performance.

The 70-site dealer group has closed two Renault outlets this year, as the French carmaker’s market share has almost halved from 8% in 1998 to just over 4% year-to-date.

However, Lookers still has 11 Renault sites.
Ken Surgenor, Lookers chief executive, said he
was looking at “all options” concerning other dual fran-chising opportunities.

The group has closed 11 franchises recently, including Citroën, Skoda and Chevrolet franchises in Maidstone.

Many were satellite operations where customers can be redirected back to a nearby main dealership.

Since the beginning of the year, it has shut five sites including two Jaguar showrooms and a Land Rover site. Another Land Rover dealership in South Kensington, London, is also due to close.

“We already have two other Land Rover dealers in London so it makes sense,” said Surgenor.

No other closures were imminent, but he said the network was constantly under review: “If there’s an underperforming operation, we will look at how we
can help and improve the business.

"If we can’t, we have to take whatever action is necessary.”

The measures have resulted in around 250 redundancies, predominantly in sales roles.

The workforce at its franchised dealer operation now totals 4,750 employees.

Despite the drop in car sales, servicing and after-sales are holding up very well and “remain strong”, Surgenor said.

Lookers’ non-franchised aftermarket businesses, including FPS, have not made any redundancies among their 1,000-strong workforce.

Despite scaling down its operation, Surgenor said any opportunities to grow through acquisitions would be looked at.

“We are looking at other opportunities,” he added.

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