Suzuki GB has performed better than expected in the recession, losing far fewer dealerships than predicted.
Dale Wyatt, general manager of dealer development, said four outlets had closed so far this year – and only two of them had been for financial reasons.
“Bell in Sunderland and Thompson in Bedford have gone because of the recession, but we thought it would be more,” he said. “The worst case scenario was 25 but it will be nothing like that. If it’s as many as eight, I’d be surprised. And that’s no more than we’d get in a normal year.”
He confirmed that Suzuki GB – which currently has 142 dealers – has around 20 open points in its franchised network and they would be filled over the next two years.
“Some of these are where we have lost dealerships, and some are areas where we have always struggled to get representation,” he said.
Wyatt said Suzuki’s weakness is in some of the metropolitan areas but he’s working hard to resolve that. A new dealership in north Glasgow has just opened with Phoenix, which also has showrooms in Paisley and Stirling.
“Manchester is imminent, within the next eight weeks. In the north west we hope to open in Southport and then in Liverpool,” he said.
UK sales last year stood at 26,000 and Suzuki expects to hit around 25,000 this year. “The first four months of 2009 has been the best start to a year we’ve ever had, but the market has moved away from 4x4s towards smaller cars,” said Wyatt.