Group 1 Automotive claims to have become the first car retailer to adopt Audi’s latest corporate identity with the opening of its new 17-car showroom in Chelmsford.
The group marked a global debut for the German premium car brand’s new-look dealership concept at the 31,000 square foot facility on Cutton Hall Lane.
Featuring space to display 80 used cars, aftersales facilities featuring a 24-bay workshop for full servicing and maintenance work and six electric vehicle (EV) charging points, the site is future-proofed and geared for growth.
Group 1 projects a 25% growth in sales and 50% increase in aftersales from the expanded business, which replaces a smaller showroom the group has operated in the town since 2003.
Darren Thompson, head of business at Audi Chelmsford, said: ‘’We are thrilled to be opening this destination centre for the people of Chelmsford.
“With our fantastic new concept showroom, extensive used car display, and expanded workshop facilities we really can offer our team and customers the best possible Audi experience, encompassing the latest technologies available.
“Early customer feedback has been outstanding and we are excited to be able to welcome visitors to this incredible facility. One which we are all extremely proud to be part of.”
Among the new Audi retail site’s features are private customer lounges, two handover bays and Audi’s cutting-edge virtual reality service, which enables them to configure new cars and sample the premium brand’s latest technical innovations.
Lookers opened its new 63,000 square foot flagship Audi dealership at Farnborough last month and, in July, Jardine opened its new Audi facility in Bolton after it moved ahead with plans originally developed by Inchcape.
Group 1, ranked ninth in the AM100, operates nine Audi dealerships in north and east London, Essex and Hertfordshire.
In August the group’s president and chief executive, Earl J. Hesterberg, revealed that it intended to embark on a period of consolidation in a “challenging” UK market.
In a presentation delivered by board members in Houston, Texas, on July 25, Hesterberg said that he was pleased to report revenues up 2.9% to $52.8 million (£43.4m) in the three months to June 30, but revealed a bleak outlook for the UK market.
Hesterberg described market conditions in the UK as “very challenging”, stating that the primary cause was uncertainties surrounding Brexit.
Overall the group endured a 30% slump in profits from new vehicle sales and of 25% in used vehicle sales in the UK during Q2.
But encouragement from VW led to Group 1’s recent growth of its UK with the acquisition of five VW car and van franchises – in Chelmsford, Colchester, Romford and Southend from Inchcape Retail.