The economic crisis has had no impact on the number of franchised outlets in the UK, with a continuing steady fall in numbers of sales and service outlets.
Main dealer sales points have fallen 12% between 2003 and 2012, with service outlets falling 4%.There was only a slight upturn in sales points in 2010, according to new research by the International Car Distribution Programme (ICDP).
Gareth Arnould, ICDP researcher, said: "There have been no visible effect from the economic crisis on the steady decline in numbers. Service outlet numbers have been much more erratic, but the general trend relative to sales points is similar to that seen throughout the rest of the EU, despite the much lower presence of authorised repairers in the UK."
Looking at the changes between 2011 and 2012, Renault reduced its network the most, by 25%, with Japanese brands contracting also.
Other than Citroen, all the traditional European volume players saw their networks shrink during the year.
Growth brands such as Hyundai and Kia continue their expansion, with Kia increasing main dealer sales outlets for the fourth year in a row, taking them back to pre-recession levels.
Many premium brands remained static with no network change year-on-year (Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes,
Mini, Volvo), or only minimal growth or contraction (BMW, Land Rover).
A number of Japanese brands cut network size, possibly influenced by the tough times they faced in
2011 when there were tsunami-related supply problems.
Sales per dealer
Sales per main dealer remain high in the UK, contrasting with the rest of the EU, including markets that rely heavily on sales agents, such as France and Italy, and therefore have local networks driving volumes to the main dealer.
Only the emerging markets of Russia and Turkey have higher sales per main dealer than the UK.
"Asian and premium brands on average have more than double the sales per main dealer in the UK than the rest of the EU for these segments, despite some brands within these segments shrinking – brand performance is relatively polarised.
"This trend becomes even more extreme when looking at sales per outlet, as opposed to sales per main dealer.
"With fewer sales agents than many other EU markets the UK races ahead in sales per outlet in the
volume sector. Unsurprisingly, with typically smaller networks, premium brands have the highest sales per outlet across the EU."
Wide variations in the % change in sales per main dealer, the ICDP says, highlight the different fortunes across brands for product or supply reasons.
Many Japanese brands were hit hard by the 2011 tsunami, seriously impacting on sales per main
dealer in distant markets such as the UK.
This accounts for the sharp decline in sales per main dealer for Subaru and Mazda, despite both these brands cutting network sizes during 2011.
Despite this, both Nissan and Lexus experienced sharp increases in sales, which, combined with
network consolidation, results in a sharp increase in average sales per main dealer.
"The large network consolidation undertaken by Renault allowed significant growth in sales per main
dealer despite shrinking sales," Arnould said.
"The economic crisis didn’t appear to have a negative effect on upper premium brands, with Porsche
expanding network size whilst simultaneously increasing sales per main dealer due to high sales in
"This contrasts with volume players such as Citroen, Fiat and Peugeot, who have been hit hard by
volume losses. Other brands, such as Smart, lost sales whilst expanding network size, resulting in decreased sales per main dealer.
The research findings are included in the European Car Distribution Handbook available from the ICDP. The 383-page report is available as a download at www.icdp.net at a cost of €2,250, with a discount to members of the ICDP Research Programme.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Note 1: brand categories are:
• Volume: Citroen, Fiat, Ford, Opel/Vauxhall, Peugeot, Renault, SEAT, Skoda, Volkswagen
• Asian: Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Suzuki, Hyundai, Kia
• Premium: Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo
Note 2: data is provided by manufacturers at European level, reflecting network status as of
January 1st, 2012 and is referenced against the preceding year sales data, calendar year 2011