Christopher Nicoll, Alfa Romeo UK managing director, said there are three reasons why it is achievable: the arrival of its B segment car, Mito, in early 2009; continued momentum of the brand; and confidence being regained by buyers, retailers and Alfa itself.
“The B segment car will have a big impact,” said Nicoll. “We will be a different operation to what we were three years ago. We were a mess back then. Now we are raring to go.”
Back in January 2006 the network was in disarray, with the sales structure the worst in Europe. Alfa Romeo reduced its dealer network by 60%. It now has 48 sites and expects to have 55 by year-end.
There are open points in Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, Oxford and Milton Keynes, although talks with partners for these locations are already underway.
“We are waiting until we have found the right people and solutions,” said Nicoll.
“But, having said that, it is much easier to talk to a candidate today than it was two years ago, because we are in a better position.”
Nicoll pointed out that Sewells 2007 dealer satisfaction survey had Alfa in 10th place compared to 33rd in 2006. While reluctant to detail profitability, it was third in the same survey.
Areas to be worked on include its used cars business and improved efficiency in systems. Sales were up 40% from 2006 to 2007 to 7,355 units and Nicoll expects to see another 15% rise this year to 8,500 units.
He said there hasn’t been one model specifically which has helped sales. “There is an even mix of cars sold. Last year, the GT BlackLine was an example of a good car with correct pricing and sensible marketing,” Nicoll said.
“People are very proud of the Alfa cars. It’s about being sporty, sexy, Italian.”