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Nissan gets tough on stragglers

More than 35 Nissan dealers are still under threat of losing their franchises if they fail to match up to new performance standards.

Nissan GB managing director Paul Willcox is continuing his quest for improved network performance which he outlined to AM last year.

He has issued termination notices to 10% of his 185 dealers, and warned that the bottom 20% will be ‘helped’ out of the franchise unless they improve.

“This is the toughest action we have taken for many years, but it is necessary because we have a hardcore 20% who consistently under perform,” said Willcox.

The network is averaging 1.7% return on sales, but Willcox is concerned about the dispersion of performance and believes only 60% are “doing a solid job.”

He added: “This is not about going out and being overly aggressive – we are trying to work with the bottom 20% and help them become good partners. If they’re not willing to put the right management or processes in place, then we will part company and help them out of the franchise,” he told AM.

The action is viewed as necessary by others in the network. Nissan Dealer Association chairman Michael Finn told AM: “Nobody welcomes action of this kind, but we can’t have 80% of the network being affected negatively by the performance of 20%.

“Nissan has been trying to work with certain dealers for a long time.

“We regard the latest NFDA survey results as showing the positive side of this situation – we’ve moved from being 28 out of 31 last year to number eight and feel that is testament to the way Paul and his team are working with the network.”

The manufacturer has recruited 13 new partners in the last eight months and will look to replace terminated dealers.

Nissan’s share of UK new car sales rose from 3% in 2008 to 4.1% last year and Willcox is confident of further growth this year from new products like the Juke crossover and Micra supermini.

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