Kia is aiming to paint the town red as part of plans for a bold new corporate identity.
But it could be another three years before the UK dealer network is fully reflecting the upgraded image the Korean manufacturer is seeking to promote its next-generation products.
“We are making big strides in terms of product and once people get into the brand, they soon recognise that it’s a pretty good proposition. But while we have no problem with quality, the fact that we have positioned ourselves in price-point fashion in the past has attracted a budget-brand perception,” Kia Motors UK managing director Michael Cole told AM.
“I see our job now as changing all that. Good design is proving to be a big help in that direction and the new Sportage is working wonders by taking us into the user-chooser market and putting us onto fleets. But we need to raise our game to match the higher quality of our product.”
Branded Space Identity, the programme is due to get under way this year and aims to achieve a common franchise appearance by the end of 2013 via changing current facia from pale grey to red and the introduction of a new red-coloured totem.
“I want us to be able to make an entrance statement to the customer and the other fundamental exterior change will be a red brand wall with a reception area in front.
“We are keen to stress to our dealers that this is not a one-size-fits-all programme and that all our outlets have to be the same shape or style.
“Where possible, we’re trying to apply the new image to existing facilities and I expect the average dealer outlay to be between £20,000 and £30,000. But that depends on the site and how far the dealer wants to go because there will be optional elements,” said Cole.
In hand with its ambitions to achieve annual volumes of more than 100,000 registrations in Britain by 2015, the company is also hoping to
top out its new-look programme with up to 10 showpiece retailing sites in key city areas.
Designated Red Cube, the distinctive sites have started to appear in other markets and feature dramatic boxy buildings with curved sides.
Explained Cole: “These are what we regard as statement dealership facilities and we’re currently looking at a European pilot. I see them as serving metropolitan markets and ideally for the most central sites in London, Manchester and Birmingham.
“Not all costs are finalised and these will depend on the final specification,” said Cole, who plans to enlarge the current 166-strong network to 175 by the end of this year.
“I think a sub-200 network is adequate for a brand selling up to 130,000 units and 185 outlets is my optimum for 2015. The key is having the right partners and we’re just about there – we have no relationship issues,” he said.