Opel re-works fleet dealer network

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Opel has clarified plans aimed at widening the service it offers fleet and retail consumers, and improving profitability for franchisees.

Opel’s network refresh will drive profitability and fleet/driver services

The story hit the headlines in the last 24 hours with many publications focusing on claims that a third of dealers will have their contracts terminated and thousands of jobs lost.

However, a spokesperson confirmed to Fleet World that refranchising is carried out by all manufacturers every 5-10 years as rules and the market change.

At the end of this month, all of the brand’s dealers, including Vauxhall branded ones in the UK, will receive a letter giving two years’ notice. The carmaker will then renegotiate its contract with those retailers on an individual basis going forwards within those two years.

Although this will bring lots of changes, the company emphasised that a key aspect will be the ability for dealers to work on both the van and car sides of the business.

Denis Chick, director of communications for Vauxhall, acknowledged that there would be some dealers who would want to move on – including within the Group to running Peugeot or Citroën franchises – or even moving on to used cars, but said this wasn’t expected to result in any job losses or cutting the network by a third, as had been widely reported in the press.

The move follows Opel’s acquisition by PSA Group last year but also due to changes in the market that are seeing people using dealers less when researching cars – due to the increase in digital information – and for servicing due to increased vehicle reliability and servicing schedules. Profitability, due to less footfall, and the exchange rate, were also playing a part, according to Chick.

Chick added: “It’s a necessary thing to do. We will end up with a stronger network, a more profitable network and a network that can invest in the future and look after our customers in the best way possible. It’s a good thing all round. For those retailers who will want to come along with us – and there are lots of them – life will be better for everybody as a result.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.