AM Online

Dealers quit as Saab struggles for survival

Two-thirds of the Saab UK dealer network have or are looking to drop the franchise following the Swedish brand’s extended battle to survive.

A Saab dealer, who preferred to remain anonymous, told AM that of the 58-strong network, just 20 are believed to be sticking with Saab while the rest have “left or are searching for the exit”.

Saab GB was put into administration on November 29 and its parent company Swedish Automobile had until Thursday, December 15, to secure more money from Chinese investors to allow it to continue to restructure.

Approval of a deal from Saab’s previous owners, General Motors, is essential due to it holding key technology licenses and production contracts.

Swedish Automobile’s administrator Guy Lofalk advised the Swedish court to end the company’s voluntary reorganisation, which will also end its protection from creditors.

Lofalk has also revealed that Saab has incurred €3.3m of new debt, which isn’t allowed for companies under court protection from creditors.

Saab GB is believed to have 800 approved used cars and 200 new cars in stock.

Dealers have been told bonuses will be honoured.

James Howarth, Cambridge Saab managing director, is one of the dealers that is sticking with Saab.

His business Buckingham & Stanley also has a Chevrolet franchise and has been "reasonably well informed" since Saab GB went into administration.

He said: “Obviously we’ve been quite troubled by what’s going on.

“I believe it’s coming to an end point with what’s going to happen and we’ll be relieved not to feel like we’re wandering through the mist.”

Howarth said the business doesn’t want to “throw away” the heritage built with Saab since it started with the brand in 1968.

He said: “We’ll be sticking with Saab and there’s still an opportunity for aftersales and used cars. I’m confident the Saab parts business is secure.”

Howarth hopes Saab’s remaining stock will not be sold at distressed prices as there are still loyal cust-omers that will buy the last cars.

Buckingham & Stanley has a fall back plan should Saab end in the UK. Howarth said: “We are actively pursuing other options should the worst happen.”

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