The closure of some Honda dealerships is inevitable in the current market, according to Bernard Bradley, Honda UK general manager.
AM spoke to Bradley after the collapse of Amethyst Motor Group, a three-site Honda dealer in Gloucestershire which went into administration with the loss of around 80 jobs.
“I have no doubt that 2009 will be a tough market, but the products we are launching are absolutely the right cars at the right time,” Bradley said.
Honda has reduced its targets by 12% this year, and will drop them even further next year, taking another 10% off the figure dealers are currently working with.
It is in talks with a number of potential buyers for the assets of Amethyst, which Bradley said showed there was “huge confidence” in the Honda brand.
Honda had been working with Amethyst to try to find solutions to its difficulties.
Bradley blamed the closure on a significant drop in new car sales and the collapse of used car sales.
Amethyst’s failure led some Honda dealers on AM’s forum to voice concerns about Honda’s approach to its franchises.
Grievances included dealers sitting on unsold pack cars which have to be registered by year-end, consumer campaigns changing too often and obligatory demos that won’t sell.
Bradley admitted that campaigns had changed more often than its normal quarterly basis but said this change was prompted by the dealers.
He strongly contested claims that Honda had been offloading pack cars.
He took action after heavy dealer pre-registering in the first quarter to reduce the pressure.
In August Honda offered dealers additional vehicles to sell by year end, with substantial bonuses to help them be competitive, but these were not for pre-registrations.
In the new year, Honda will relax its demonstrator requirements.