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Kia bucks trend and looks for growth

Kia sales are set for more growth in 2009 despite the gloom and doom of the UK car market.

Only eight carmakers have increased registrations this year (including Kia, Smart, Volvo and Jaguar). Kia will continue out-performing the slump in 2009 by selling more than 33,000 units, claims its UK managing director Paul Philpott.

“The 2,000 units that were added this year boosted our market share by 7% and I’m confident of achieving further growth of 6% next year,” he told AM.

That would take Kia from its current 1.5% share of the UK market to 1.7%.

Philpott revealed that 10 new sales points will come on line in the first quarter of 2009 to swell the dealer network to 145 sites, and talks are at an advanced stage with another 10.

“Trading conditions are tough, but we are still doing well and I regard the positive attitude of the network as our biggest achievement.

“We’re getting new dealers who are refranchising because they are dissatisfied and this is giving us solus showrooms in many cases. 

“We’re finding that where big brands have suffered a decline in sales, dealers are keen to dual franchise with us because they recognise that only minimum investment in workshop facilities can attract valuable increased sales volume. 

Some existing dealers with one or two sites want to expand to three or even four – and people who gave us notice of termination at the end of 2006 now want to come back,” he said.

According to Philpott, only short supply of its Picanto and Rio models has prevented Kia from achieving even better results.

“Our moves to reduce daily rental business from 7,000 in 2006 to 4,000 this year is steering more business through the network and the figure will drop to 3,000 in 2009 as we give our dealers a more profitable business model.

“Our dealers see us as a well organised, professional and profitable franchise with a great future. 

“Next year will be challenging, but we are in a confident mood,” said Philpott.

Kia will launch the Soul range to its network at its dealer conference in Leeds at the end of January, when pricing, model line-up and marketing plans will be outlined just a week before the first cars reach UK showrooms.

The UK launch of the new Magentis D-sector contender will also coincide with the Leeds event, when Kia Motors management will unveil the company’s business plan for the next 12 months and reveal franchise development over the next three years.

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