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Nissan GB puts its retail partners under spotlight

This summer Nissan GB is holding a review of every retail partner and every location in its dealer network.

Managing director Paul Willcox wants a full diagnostic evaluation of the current performance of each site and partners’ strengths and weaknesses.

This will be followed by a needs analysis to identify ways of helping dealerships.

“Rather than saying we’ll support our dealers by writing a cheque it’s about seeing what’s needed and putting in a programme to achieve that,” Willcox told AM.

He said there are too many different programmes in place at present, and there is a danger that managers spend too long trying to understand the programmes and lose focus from the dealership.

Willcox wants to end many of the programmes with the aim of making the franchise one of the simplest to run.

“We’re taking a lot of the complexity out of the business and focusing on the things that matter – selling parts, selling labour hours and selling cars,” he said.

Willcox has visited more than 30 of his dealers since his appointment in April.

Nissan’s UK registrations have been declining since 2005, and he wants to get the network motivated and ready to drive forward Nissan’s medium-term global strategy GT 2012 (G is for growth, T is for trust).

This focuses on improvements in quality, zero-emissions leadership and revenue growth through expanding the product range.

“In the UK we’re looking to grow the range in cars and LCVs, and we have the challenge of managing that through the network.

“We’ll be transparent with all partners and we’ll explain what their commitment is. “We need to grow our brand to take it from 1% market share to 4% by 2012,” he said.

There are two priorities in the franchise plan to achieve this. First is to add 28 sales points, taking the network to around 208 locations, which will be 95% capacity, he said.

These will be in addition to any transfers of current sites.

“We will need to change probably 40 of our existing outlets,” said Willcox.

“The bottom 15% are consistently underperforming in every single metric, and those will have to improve or we will migrate them out. But 60% of the network does not need to do anything.”

Second priority is to increase volume through the network. With it, Willcox insists, will come greater profitability.

“When the network growth is completed we want to hold the level of percentage profit to turnover between 1-1.5% or maybe up to 2%, but to increase the volume throughput for dealers so their overall performance should be significantly increased.”

A small proportion of the current network is loss-making, but Willcox expects this to be below 10% by 2012.

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