Fleet News

Time to make headway, says Citroen's UK chief

CITROEN is under-established in the fleet market and now is the time to make headway, according to UK managing director Alain Favey. Six months into his stewardship at the helm of Citroen UK and Favey has much to shout about.

When he took over the hot seat Citroen's UK sales were struggling in both the retail and fleet arenas, largely because of an aging product line-up. But he said the launch of the Xsara Picasso would be the springboard for sales to increase to his initial target of 100,000 units a year.

And, that is exactly what has happened, Citroen sales will break through the six-figure barrier for the first time having received a boost from the launch of Picasso and Berlingo Multispace. Now he is looking for further growth with the launch of the facelifted Xsara and the launch in April next year of the all-new C5, which will replace the Xantia in the upper medium sector.

'Fleet sales grew in September and they are continuing to increase this month,' said Favey. 'It takes time for companies to add new cars on to their choice lists and company car drivers to choose them.

'Vehicles such as the Picasso have shown me that Citroen has significant potential in the fleet market, but we are under-established in that sector at the moment. Now is the time to prove our credentials. We now have new Xsara and C5 will be available next year and both are serious fleet propositions.'

After France and Spain, the UK is Citroen's largest market and Favey has presided over a market share which has increased from 3.2% in May to 4.3% last month.

'We have increased our market share one percentage point with the launch of Xsara Picasso and Multispace. Those vehicles have generated much activity. It is the first time that we have seen an upward trend in our UK market share. 'Sales will reach 100,000 units this year and we plan to continue to expand next year.

'We have been very successful with vans in the fleet market and Picasso and Multispace have shown that fleets like our cars. Now with Xsara and C5 to follow we have to convince fleets to buy our cars.'

Although Saxo prices were realigned earlier this year and new Xsara prices are about 10% down on the old model, Favey has no immediate plans to cut Citroen prices across the board.

'We are watching what is going on, but our prices are very, very competitive, particularly against Ford and Vauxhall even after their recent price cuts. We don't see price reductions by other manufacturers as a threat,' said Favey.

'We know and fleet buyers know our prices are competitive. Many of the changes which have taken place are cosmetic because transaction prices have not moved. If we see a price problem we will adapt.'

Pricing issues aside, Favey is hoping product will do the 'talking' for Citroen and with C3 due to be launched in 2002, Pluriel in 2003 and C6 in 2004, the model line-up is being transformed.

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