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Expanding Suzuki adds six dealers to network

Suzuki is rapidly boosting its network, taking on six dealers – including expansion with two existing franchise holders, J & J Motors and Fulton Group – in the past fortnight.

The recruitment of the sites in Dundee, Heathrow, Nuneaton, Fairham, Weston-Super-Mare and Bridge End follows a push to fill more than 36 open points, which include Stafford, Bracknell and Liverpool.

The Japanese carmaker currently has 151 UK sites and expects to have more than 160 by the end of 2008.

Open points in Milton Keynes and Northampton – the result of four-site Braylake Suzuki going bust last year – are expected to start trading in August and quarter four respectively, said Suzuki dealer development manager Dale Wyatt.

The franchisee for the Milton Keynes site has not yet been named but is an existing Suzuki dealer. Discussions with a couple of parties about Northampton are currently under way.

Philip Haupt, former director of Braylake Suzuki, bought the Leighton Buzzard site following Braylake’s demise. It now trades as Leighton Car Company.

Haupt, who took over in October 2007, said volume was down on last year due to the economy, but profit-ability was up.

He has been focusing on aftersales – overhead absorption has increased from 60% to 80% – and he plans to expand with another showroom next year.

Braylake Suzuki went into voluntary administration after two of its four dealerships – Northampton and Milton Keynes Wolverton – were “losing money at a vast rate”, said Haupt.

Following this, the four directors disagreed on whether to maintain the remaining two sites, resulting in Haupt buying Leighton Buzzard. Milton Keynes Bletchley closed.

Suzuki dealers had an average 1.3% return on sales in 2007. In solus dealerships, this rose to 2.0%.

Wyatt attributed the decreased national dealer average to contributions from other brands “which has brought us down”.

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