Renault is looking forward to a strong second quarter after introducing measures to help make its dealer network more profitable.
The French brand saw a 53% drop in new car registrations to 10,227 in March and ended quarter one at 3.09% market share, compared to 4.69% in Q1 2008.
Renault has boosted its share of the private retail market to 4.9% towards the end of April.
Roland Bouchara, Renault UK managing director, told AM: “We’re really trying to make retail more profitable for the network, reduce our volume expectations and cut out forced registrations.”
He said one of the major focus points was getting the model sales mix right. He said: “We were concentrating heavily on smaller cars like the Twingo and Clio and it was accounting for 70% of our retail sales.
However, we’ve now changed this to 30%, so we have a better mix of retail sales coming through with new Megane, Laguna, Laguna Coupé and now Grand Scenic.”
Renault has one of the youngest model ranges in the UK. Its new Clio will join that range later this year.
Renault is still downsizing its network. In some cases its scaling down operations rather than closing sites.
This will continue into next year. The number of franchised dealers will be cut from 260 to 200 and repairers from 300 to 220.
He said: “A lot of manufacturers are making price rises and we’re following what the market leaders are doing, so our prices will go up too. I believe by July we’ll really see who’s prepared for this downturn correctly, with some manufacturers struggling once the heavily discounted stock has gone.
“If conditions are right in the second quarter, we’ll be well positioned.”
Bouchara wants dealers to increase the number of vans they sell in a bid to raise its market share by 0.5% this year to 6.5%, about 18,500 units.
Renault will be increasing the amount of stock available to its LCV dealers and wants more demonstrators ready for testing at dealerships.
Robin Cook, Renault dealer council chairman and managing director of Bristol-based Carco, told AM: “The franchise has undergone a difficult period for the past two years, but there are some big positives coming through like new product in the second quarter of this year.
“The over-trading days are behind us. There’s no self registrations to speak of and volume expectations have been lowered.”