The actual number of new franchisees is likely to be closer to 40 due to forecast average annual network churn of 5-10 sites.
The majority of open points are in metropolitan areas and Skoda has turned to the sponsored retailer programme first developed by its parent company Volkswagen and since used by sister brand Audi. It already has 11 sponsored retailers and will appoint three more within the next couple of months in north Birmingham, Reading and Hull.
Of the 21 open points, around half will be filled in this way. Candidates – Skoda says it has around 40 expressions of interest - go through psychometric testing to ensure they are the right calibre for Skoda, with much of the emphasis on providing outstanding customer service.
Under the terms of the scheme, candidates put in their own capital but the majority of start-up funds are provided by Skoda as an interest free loan.
The remaining 10 or so open points will be filled through a combination of existing partners moving into adjacent territories and new partners, predominantly medium sized regional groups.
Skoda is in talks with one 10-outlet group in the Midlands and says it has a lot of interest from dealers who wish to join the network. However, it rules out bringing more plcs on board.
By 2011, the company expects to be selling 58,000 cars in the UK, up from 40,000 last year. It is targeted 42,000 sales this year.