Fleet News

Franchised dealers fall

BRITAIN'S total number of franchised dealers fell by 9% last year - the biggest drop for a decade as manufacturers look to increase dealer profitability by reducing their networks.

According to a new survey from Fleet NewsNet sister publication Sewells International, the total number of franchised outlets fell by 676 to 6,754 during 1996, confirming the long term downwards trend which started in the 1980s. Twenty-six manufacturers or importers reduced their dealer count, with Ford making the biggest cuts in a cull of 173 outlets followed by Rover with 106. Vauxhall was the only franchise to increase its outlets - up 17 to 520. Over the next year, Ford expects to cut another 29% of its dealer network, Audi 16% and Fiat, a massive 30%.

Report author Brian Gourlay said there was also considerable 'fine-tuning' of networks to meet market demands - particularly from fleets and small businesses, which are estimated to account for around 70% of new car sales. Copies of Sewells Franchised Networks is available - priced at £135 - from Cathy Gray at Sewells International on 01733 467191.

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