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Subaru targets cities in search for new dealers

Subaru is looking to recruit 15 more dealers in the UK this year in order to help push sales of its new Forester and diesel engine.

Lawrence Good, Subaru UK’s managing director, said the appointments will address its open points in major cities, particularly London.

It will also help grow sales by 20% on last year’s 6,051 units, taking it back to its 2006 level.

The recruitment push will put Subaru closer to its ultimate objective of growing the network from 78 to a maximum of 100 dealers.

Good said: “We’ve got a real problem with representation in London, but who hasn’t. It’s something that we are looking to fix.”

He expects dealers to sell 4,000 Foresters in a full year. The model goes on sale this month priced from £17,995 in petrol format, with the boxer diesel version following in September. Dealers are targeted to sell 2,000 this year.

“The Forester will not be sold with any discounts,” said Good. “The onus will be placed on pricing competitively rather than offering cash back.”

Subaru dealers have had a tough time selling a model line-up with no alternative to petrol in a market where diesel sales are growing month after month.

Good said: “Dealers have had a difficult few years. We need to make some small changes, but I don’t want to get away from a great, personal service.

“It’s important that dealers understand how important they are to us. I’m a firm but fair person and dealers that stick to the rules will do well. Those that don’t will not.”

The new boxer diesel engine is expected to boost Subaru sales from between 40-60%.

Sales targets for dealers are negotiated, but sit at a minimum of 75 cars across the Subaru range in order to achieve bonus.

Several dealers fell out with Subaru over slow sales of the new Impreza, which was launched last year in normally aspirated 1.5- and 2.0-litre versions.

Sales targets have also met with opposition from some who doubt whether this year’s new launches will bring the required sales growth.

One dealer questioned whether Subaru would be supporting its sales expectations with adequate marketing and support.

Good said: “We are investing more money in marketing and will be making a push to get the Forester involved in equestrian sports in particular.

“We don’t want to move away from our beginnings as a niche brand.”

The Forester will initially be available in two trim levels and a 2.0-litre engine with five-speed manual or four-speed auto gearbox.

The diesel will only be available with a manual ’box.

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