Xavier Duchemin, Citroën UK managing director, believes the time is right for the network to undergo an image overhaul because the carmaker is at the point of launching an “avalanche” of new vehicles.
The changes, which include new interior and exterior looks with a heavy focus on the Citroën chevrons, have already been discussed with the national dealer council.
Costs will be jointly absorbed by dealers and Citroën.
“We are conscious of dealer profits and it won’t be an extra burden for the network,” said Duchemin.
“We have plenty of dealers who want to be the first with the new corporate identity.” He said the roll-out would be gradual over the next two to three years, but that the first new-look dealers would be ready in the first half of 2009. Most will be able to upgrade existing facilities.
The news coincides with Citroën reiterating its intention to grow its retail network from 209 to 230-240 retailers over the next couple of years to fill high-profile open points in territories like London and Liverpool.
But Duchemin might be looking for some more dealers after telling AM that he is running out of patience with his worst performers.
Despite increasing dealer bonuses by 30%, based on sales volumes, and putting more cash behind the CSI scheme, there have been no improvements from the bottom-ranking dealers.
“The bottom 20 dealers have big difficulties and are losing money,” Duchemin said. “And it’s always the same dealers.”
A profit improvement taskforce was set up last year to support poorer performers, but Duchemin is now taking more direct action. He is writing to the 20 dealers giving them six months to show an improvement.
“We will work with them but they have to progress – it’s not good for them or for us,” he said.
“It has a negative impact on customer satisfaction so they have to dramatically improve and change.
“The way to sell cars in the 21st century is not the same as it was 20 years ago.”