Disgruntled Renault dealers, who claim that the French brand’s joint R20 cost-cutting programme is too little too late, should use their dealer council association as a “sounding board and arbitration channel for airing grievances and seeking solutions”.
That was the offer from the association’s chairman Robin Cook, managing director of Bristol-based Carco, which runs three Renault outlets within its multi-franchise portfolio.
Responding to a flurry of highly critical comments posted on AM online, after reports of £59,500 average annual savings, Cook said: “I am willing to be the go-between.”
Offering to deal with some complaints on a confidential basis Cook, a veteran of 25 years’ motor trade experience, added: “We offer mechanisms and can act as an arbiter.”
Cook revealed that Renault management recently told a dealer meeting that the current 242-outlet network will be cut to 201 within two years.
He explained: “It would be foolish to pretend that Renault dealerships are not unhappy places with significant falls in market share affecting an over-facilitated network.
“We have had a handful of casualties and there will be more victims. Renault has seemed to expect a lower level of volume and market share which is completely alien to what we became used to.”
Renault sales fell 64% in November and are down 29% year to date. Cook, who also runs single Kia and Citroën outlets, added: “A market share of just over 4% is not viable for a franchise geared up to 7% or 8%. That generates pain, resentment and grievances. ”
He claimed that the R20 programme was “virtually the brainchild of the association” and was intended to reduce annual costs estimated to be nearly £150,000 above other franchises.
Measures involve helping dealers, on the basis of gold, silver and bronze category ratings depending on their cost penalty rankings.
The assistance includes weekly payment processes and support for non-target related bonuses, significantly reduced demonstrator vehicle requirements, including six months free funding plus two free demonstrators for business centres an 18% cut in training costs and the end of the criteria for technician staffing versus work volume.
Cook claimed: “I am not a Renault apologist but there are misunderstandings about the scheme.”