Infiniti is gearing up its UK retail network for a 2016 sales push into the corporate and private markets.
The preparations include adding authorised repairers, the launch of an approved used car programme and changes at its head office.
The Japanese premium brand will launch its volume model, the Sunderland-built Q30 hatchback, into the UK new car market in January. UK country manager Carl Bayliss says this, plus its existing Q50 saloon, is building a stronger relationship between Infiniti and business customers.
Although the premium company car market is very competitive and dominated by German brands, Bayliss said Infiniti has expanded its UK team, with a shift in key account management leading to stronger results.
“We’ve always been a curiosity, certainly to the fleet world. Now, being able to pick up the phone and speak to someone at Infiniti about the product and future product, we really have momentum and traction in the marketplace now.”
The split between retail and fleet is balanced, he said.
Since March Infiniti has used pop-up shops in major shopping malls around the UK. Bayliss said it is a marketing tool which has helped Infiniti explain what the brand is, what it represents, and promote its products. These have been held with the nearest Infiniti dealership, and have fed leads back to the business.
Infiniti’s UK network is currently at 10 locations (of which half are manufacturer-owned), and Bayliss needs to develop that much further. His desire is to bridge the gaps between its current centres, which span from Hull in the east to Stockport in the west and Reading in the south to Glasgow in Scotland.
The ambition is to appoint new dealers some 60 minutes drive-time apart. He wouldn’t comment on whether existing franchise partners will expand their representation, and added that new franchisees will be certainly brought on board. He said now that Q30 is looming Infiniti is getting more interest from investors.
Recent appointments include FG Barnes at Maidstone and Vertu Motors in Newcastle.
In addition to sales points, Infiniti UK needs to increase its service coverage and is beginning a pilot programme of authorised repairers, which will be in place for the January launch of Q30. Recruits will not necessarily need premium brand experience, but will need to represent the Infiniti brand properly. Some of these may later decide to upgrade to a full sales and service franchise, he said.
Bayliss wouldn’t talk about network returns, but said the new models will give it extra sales ability and the ambition is always to be in profit.
In preparation for growth in new car volumes, Infiniti has just launched a pan-European approved used car programme, which markets cars with a two-year warranty and multi-point check. Bayliss said this will be a strong attraction for private buyers who want a used premium car.