The company will take control of outlets in Greater London, Birmingham and Manchester, and set up 'market area concepts' (MAC) combining dealers, and satellite sales and servicing outlets. But the move will see nearly half of its current dealer network lose the Mercedes-Benz franchise, and dealers are taking legal advice over whether to challenge the decision.
Mercedes-Benz says fleet customers would get a better deal under the new system, with dedicated corporate sales areas and specialist staff. But Alan Pulham, franchised dealer director of the Retail Motor Industry Federation, says the move is bad news for all Mercedes customers, and claimed DaimlerChrysler had already increased the premium on buying a right-hand drive model abroad.
He said: 'People no longer have the option of getting cars cheaper abroad, which reduces competition. I'm sure in the long term, the aim of dedicated corporate sales areas will be good. It's what will happen in the interim which will cause problems. Within 12 months a whole lot of Mercedes dealers will disappear and there will not be enough time to implement the new system. This is bad whether you are a corporate or private customer.'