Nissan GB wants to increase its network to around 200 outlets by the end of 2012 as it continues to seek a larger slice of the UK market.
The carmaker believes the greater rewards offered by the Nissan franchise will encourage more dealers, particularly the strong regional groups, to invest and help it increase its 185-strong network.
Managing director Paul Willcox said around 40% of the network is in multi-franchised locations. Although he accepts these have a place, he hopes this proportion will reduce with network investment because solus sites generally achieve a better market share and have greater management focus.
“Our process is based on business, not emotion. If a dealer’s focus is a concern and performance suffers then we will have a conversation,” he added.
Its support by manufacturer-owned dealerships is set to continue, but not necessarily expand. Nissan GB’s dealer group, Aprite, has 12 dealerships and accounts for around 10% of the brand’s UK sales.
Renault Retail Group, the retail arm of Nissan’s alliance partner whose market share has floundered in recent years, now has four Nissan dealerships in multi-franchise sites.
Willcox said the arrangement benefits both parties, but whether it is expanded further would depend on the commercial opportunity.
This year is a vital year for Nissan as it introduces Leaf, the UK’s first practical family-orientated electric vehicle.
It sends out a message of innovation and environmental credentials for Nissan, said Willcox.
Leaf orders are now up to 500 units, and Nissan GB has begun a roadshow going round its dealers to provide test drives.
Willcox is confident that demand will exceed the limited supply of Leaf this year.