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Nissan cuts van dealers

Nissan GB has reduced its van dealer business centre network from 65 down to 50 in order to focus on “quality, not quantity”.

Francis Bleasdale, Nissan GB LCV sales and marketing director, said: “What we’re interested in is quality rather than quantity.

“We have clear standards in terms of performance and what’s required to be part of the programme.

For some dealers the programme wasn’t for them and we’d rather have partners who are focused on what we want them to achieve.”

Each business centre specialist LCV dealer has to have a dedicated member of staff and a full display of demonstrators.

Bleasdale said it was clear in some areas ‘the size of the opportunity doesn’t always justify the investment’.

Nissan’s 190-strong dealer network is able to sell cars and vans, but there are 50 within that number which are business specialists. Nissan also has five solus LCV sites.

Bleasdale expects that if the network does grow again, it will be with the additional of a couple of solus dealerships.

He said: “We’ll see continued recovery, confidence is starting to recover, we’ve moved on from the recession.

"The time for fleets to continually put off the replacement of their vehicles is much more limited – they have a defined lifespan. Some of the growth is coming organically. Companies are starting to expand.”

Nissan’s share of the LCV market is at 5.3% and Bleasdale is happy with where the brand is standing in the market at the moment.

“Obviously we’re always looking for growth, but we want to be a 5% player in the marketplace so we’re in a strong position.”

Nissan believes growth will continue with the help of new models like the NV400 Ford Transit competitor this year and the eventual introduction of the Leaf electric van in 2013.

He said: “We’re also continually investing in the business centre programme. Really targeting that SME marketplace which is where we feel there is the greatest growth potential, but it’s also possibly the hardest area to penetrate as well.

“You can only do that through your dealers, so we’ve put a dedicated national team of six across the UK in place specifically tasked to develop that SME business in conjunction with the dealers.

“They work with the end users too, providing a link between Nissan, the dealer and the customer to really make sure we’re getting the growth out of that particular sector.”

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