Jaguar Land Rover’s Arch Concept car dealership network restructure remains just 60% complete despite hopes that an "aggressive" original schedule would deliver changes to almost every retail site by the end of 2018.
The ambitious project to implement the new corporate identity, and bring the Jaguar and Land Rover franchises together under one roof at many JLR franchised sites, was billed as the "quickest total network re-think carried out by any manufacturer” back in 2016.
But speaking at the UK launch of the new Range Rover Evoque this week, the manufacturer’s UK managing director, Rawdon Glover, told AM that there remained work to be done.
“We’re 60% of the way through the Arch journey,” said Glover, who took up his current post from Jeremy Hicks last summer.
“We’ll see another 20 Arch sites opened over the next 12 months. The original plan was to be done by now.
“When we set off it was an extremely aggressive timeline but things like gaining planning permission and finding the volume of new sites that our retailers required for relocations has taken time.
“There are lots of reasons why it has taken a little longer than envisaged.”
One reason for delays could be a degree of push-back from retail groups who wish to postpone planned Arch Concept developments during the economic uncertainty which has come with the declining new car market and the prospect of Brexit.
Speaking to AM back in August, 2016, JLR network development manager Sarah Nelmes said that each franchised partner would be investing between £2 million and £15m implementing JLR’s dual-brand Arch concept as part of a network-wide investment of £1 billion.
The AM100’s number one retail group, the Sytner Group, certainly has not stalled its investment in the JLR brands.
Its new 17,000 square foot Guy Salmon ‘Statement Site’, located just off the A3 in South West London, will be one of just eight similar locations globally when it opens later this year.
The five-storey development and serve as the home for Jaguar, Land Rover, Special Vehicle Operations and JLR Classic and will house 27 technical aftersales bays and two MOT test lanes.
Glover said: “That facility will offer everything that Jaguar and Land Rover currently offers.”
While JLR’s declining sales in China have been well documented in recent weeks, its sales show a strong start to 2019.
Land Rover’s registrations were up 4% (1,559) to the end of February, while Jaguar’s retailers increased their volumes by 6.9%, to 3,112.
Glover said that he was really pleased with the strong start to the year for his brands which, he claimed, had helped to deliver a network-wide average return on sales figure of above 1%.
He said that the manufacturer was keen to see its retail network “right-sized” for the volumes it is achieving in the UK and said that a new focus on operational performance and aftersales had to be a priority for retailers who had invested in the new CI.
He said: “We started the Arch Concept project five years ago with 210 retailers and we think we’ll end up with somewhere in the region of 125. Having 200-plus points is far too many.
“The focus now has to be very much on making those Arch sites profitable and we have a responsibility to help retailers achieve the best performance they can.
“We’ll be doing that in a number of ways, but the focus will be very much on process, with an increased involvement on older used cars and aftersales.”
Glover said that the JLR network would be encouraged to stock older approved used vehicles on their forecourts in a bid to drive the retention of customers wanting to both buy and service those vehicles.
“In terms of process, what we have to remember is that a lot of retailers have moved into much larger facilities which have introduced drive in service bays and increased the number of workshop ramps from 10 to 20 in many cases,” he added.
“Those retailers have to have the processes in place to help them achieve the efficiency and capacity that they need to make that move a success.”