The head of Seat UK is confident the expanding brand will beat its record this year despite tough market conditions as new models and competitive finance offers bring customers to its dealerships.
“This year will be tough. Officially we’re in recession again, so we don’t anticipate big changes to that. So it’s about what we do to attract the people that are in the market.
Seat will do okay, we will improve position over the year,” brand director Peter Wyhinny told AM.
He said the brand’s positioning was low deposit and low, reasonable monthly costs. Seat’s message to consumers is that it is accessible for small budgets.
The revised Ibiza has just gone on sale with no price increase on the previous model. It starts with a PCP offer of £199 deposit and £199 monthly payments.
The Mii, Seat’s first city car since the Arosa, will also have a “compelling” finance offer when it launches this June, he said.
Wyhinny said PCP sales have grown massively in the last three years, and Seat was fortunate in retaining reasonable equity in the vehicles when the finance reached end of term, so it doesn’t “burn customers” and deter them from further business.
Seat dealers’ profitability improved last year.
The carmaker reduced its rental volumes by 1,000 units, and replaced this with dealer sales, so the increased revenue and profit lifted return on sales by 0.7 percentage points.
Average new car throughput per dealer has increased by 55 units, to 260 units, and will continue to increase in line with Seat UK’s ambitions.
Existing partners and new additions, such as Eastern Western, Sinclair Group, Spire Automotive and Stoneacre, are gearing up for the growth.
Only 10 open points remain, but network expansion is evolutionary as Seat creates a market area opportunity.
He said the brand has a clear relationship between cost and revenue, and established dealers achieved 1.6-1.7% return on average, while the best performers exceeded 3%.
The dealers which posed a challenge generally operated shared sales environments, and in the current conditions having dedicated Seat people for sales and aftersales was necessary for success.
More product remains in the pipeline for Seat.
Toledo will arrive in early 2013, and the next Leon will be built in three-door, five-door and, for the first time, in estate guises.
Asked about the likelihood of a sporty version of Mii or a Seat SUV, Wyhinny said there was no sign-off for either.
However, there was room in the range to do it, he said.