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Citroen - a strengthening brand looking for stability

Citroën UK is looking for a period of stability and consistency in 2011.

That comes off a second half of 2010 which saw the brand strengthen with consistent offers and gain 1% in new car market share.

“Our dealers want us to continue doing what we’ve been doing,” said managing director Linda Jackson.

Since her appointment last year she has been out in the retail network, visiting five dealers per month to get feedback on what they need to succeed.

“We can’t always do everything they ask, but it’s important to try to get a feel for it,” she said.

Business development groups are in place for dealers and Citroën UK directors to look at ways to grow the business.

Each considers issues raised by the network and examines solutions.

The aftersales group is currently considering how to increase retail hours sold.

Potential solutions include introducing an annual health check, fixed price menu repairs and a programme for owners of older cars.

Jackson wouldn’t reveal average profitability figures for the network, but said it has made a “significant improvement”.

In a previous AM interview, she said the average return on sales was 1% for the first eight months of 2010.

The carmaker has been taking action to improve the franchise, and dealers opinions of the brand are improving. Citroën scored 5.6 out of 10 for franchise value in the latest NFDA dealer attitude survey, still below the 6.8 average, but better than the 4.7 of last summer’s survey.

For Citroën UK, the focus is on steadily increasing market share, raising brand awareness and enhancing customer satisfaction, said Jackson.

By the end of this year, all UK Citroën dealerships will have updated to the latest corporate identity and their teams more motivated.

“We need to move forward with dealers, our partners. It’s important for the viability of the network.

They have to have the right resources and be able to invest in our brand,” she added.

2011 will be the first full year of sales for C3, its family hatch, and the fleet-orientated C4 has just launched. DS3, Citroen’s stylish Mini rival, is bringing a different type of customer to Citroën and is successful in widening the marque’s appeal.

It is also quite lucrative – the average customer spend on accessorising DS3 is £1,000-£2,000.

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