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Seat UK hopes SUV and higher car sales throughput will boost dealer network

The UK’s Seat dealer network will see its average revenue per car improve in future as the Volkswagen-owned car brand enters new market segments.

Richard Harrison, director of Seat UK, told AM the Spanish brand is only in 54% of the market by product type, but it could be in 70% or more of the market towards the end of the decade as its range expands.

In 2016 Seat will get its first compact SUV, likely to be followed by a sub-compact SUV from 2017

“Where we have cars in the market now we’re getting 3.5% to 4% share, so the broader our market coverage the more opportunity we have to get scale.

"This will help us as a brand, and help our dealer network. There are an exciting couple of years ahead. Lots of potential.”

He said the UK business had been too reliant on the B-segment Ibiza in the past, but the C-segment Leon now matches the smaller model for volume and the SUVs will sit on top.

These changes should mean that average revenue per car will improve “and this will help us and our dealers”, he said.

Brand awareness has improved, driven by the Leon, however Seat still has work to do on its communications, he said.

Recent TV activity with Leon has been delivering a consistent message, and has broadened appeal away from Seat’s prior focus on young and sporty attributes.

Its sales to the retail market still outweigh fleet registrations by almost three to two.

Promotion of Leon and Leon Sport Tourer to the fleet sector has had some success in growing this market for the brand, with Seat invited to tender for bigger fleet contracts when three years back it wouldn’t have been a consideration.

Harrison hopes this will continue when the SUV arrives. Nevertheless, by the end of Q3 Seat UK’s share of the fleet market had declined 0.3ppts to 1.66% after a low September performance.

Seat UK’s average sales per franchised outlet has risen from 294 in 2010 to 432 in 2014, when annual registrations passed the 50,000 mark for the first time.

Performance needs to improve further, said Harrison.

“What I’m looking for now is for the dealership quality, in terms of facilities and customer experience, to improve.

"To do that we need the dealers to generate higher revenue, so I’m looking for throughput per dealer to go up, so we can scale the businesses that allows them to invest at a level that gives that really top class experience to customers.”

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  • Darren Williams (Elements PRMC Ltd) - 13/10/2015 09:16

    The need to be in this market segment is paramount however SEAT have been promising their network a compact SUV since 2007 (with Tribu) and beyond (with IBX) however living in the shadows of the other brand partners (Volkswagen, Audi & Skoda) has not helped. I'm sure now with a renewed commitment and Richard Harrison at the helm the brand can and will now stand up in its own right