Franchisees from Stellantis’ UK dealership networks have told AM of their support of the car manufacturing giant’s plan to delay the roll-out of its agency model agreements by six months.
A memo said to have been issued by DS Automobiles brand director Jules Tilstone first indicated that the planned roll-out of the new era of agency model retail due to start in July next year will now be delayed until January 1, 2024.
And a spokesperson for Stellantis UK later confimed the new timeline to AM.
Franchisees representing Alfa Romeo, DS Automobiles and all commercial brands in the UK are set to be affected by the first phase of the agency model roll-out, which many expect will result in payment of a handling fee of around 5% to retail partners.
'The right move'
Darren Ardron, the manging director of Perrys Group, said he was "100% behind" Stellantis' plan to delay its agency model roll-out.
"Absolutely it's the right thing for them to do," he said. "It's an incredibly complex process for them to implement and I think it's right to allow more time.
"There are trials happening elsewhere across the world and I think it gives time to see how that goes before a wider roll-out.
"That said, six months is not a long time and it will still be with us very soon."
Other car retail bosses who spoke to AM said they had not received any communication of a delay to Stellantis’ agency model plans, but one said he was “over the moon” at the prospect of a delay.
“We are actively making calls to establish what the plan is an if there have been any delays, but my first reaction would be to say, if there is, I am over the moon,” said one.
“I know that there was concern that the original deadline was probably starting to look like a stretch too far.
“One key thing for car manufacturers at the moment is logistics – the simple challenge of bringing vehicles to market. I think for any brand the size of Stellantis to introduce a complete change to the way it does things in that climate is very bold.”
Will agency plans 'die'?
Another Stellantis franchisee who would be affected by any changes to the initial roll-out of agency model agreements, described the new retail concept as “the bane of my life” and expressed the hope that any delay might indicate Stellantis was having second thoughts about its plans.
“I think there is a chance that, in the end, we might well see the pure agency model die and become a thing that exists only for certain brands or models,” he added.
“I would love to think that Stellantis have taken time to look at it, and all that it brings, and have thought twice about it. There must be a part of them that sees all the extra costs it will bring and have them thinking ‘I don’t want to fund the new corporate identity (CI), the stocking charges, the staff training.”
A statement regarding the Stellantis’ plans for its new distribution model, issued this morning, stated that its business partners had been conducting “co-constructive interactions” to contribute to the development of the future model, considering the BER (Block Exemption Regulation) framework.
It said that retail partners in Austria, Benelux (Belgium and Luxembourg) and The Netherlands would be piloting the transformation process as of July 2023, adding: “The rest of Europe, including the UK, will progressively follow in the implementation of the new distribution scheme.”
News of the delay to the OEM’s plans come just a month after Lee Titchner network development director at Stellantis UK spelled out the OEM giant's strategy of adopting a contiguous market area-style network plan to streamline its franchised dealer relationships, with the loss of 138 of its 918 franchised sales points.
Today’s statement issued by Stellantis said: “The comparative economic simulation with the planned model makes it possible to demonstrate at least an equivalent profitability, if not superior, for our network, while considering an increased assumption of costs by Stellantis and the reduction of exposure to the risks of our distributors.”