Stephen Norman, managing director of Vauxhall Motors, has announced that all Vauxhall dealerships in the UK will be part of a brand refranchisement. The brand currently operates 326 retail outlets supported by 93 different investors or investment groups.
Norman highlighted that he does not expect there to be a reduction in the number of retail outlets across the UK market due to the refranchising process. He further stressed that he does not expect any job losses across the retail network, which he estimated to currently employ between 11,000 and 12,000 people.
The refranchisement will take the form of a termination of contracts with all current Vauxhall dealers. This process will be started on 30 April this year and actioned over the next two years, through 30 April, 2020. At that point, dealers will be invited to reapply to represent the Vauxhall brand.
Answering questions from journalists, Norman noted that all major brands go through a process of refranchisement at various times. He noted that across his 30-year career had had been involved with refranchising at four different brands. In addition to the UK, the refranchising process will also encompass all European retail outlets representing the Opel brand.
Norman also noted that online trading alone was not in of itself a reason to refranchise the brand. “No single reason is sufficient for refranchising,” he said. He went on to say that a combination of market forces had combined to necessitate the move.
Asked by Motor Trader whether dealerships and groups reapplying to represent the Vauxhall brand would be required to put forward new investment, Norman said that this would not be required. “Quite the opposite,” he added at the end of his reply.
While Norman would not give a specific number of retail outlets he expected to make up the Vauxhall retail network post-2020, he noted that the brand operated the second-largest dealership network in the UK and, after the refranchisement, he expected Vauxhall to remain the second-largest network.