Future of Vauxhall’s huge dealer network uncertain as brand terminates contracts with all 326 sites

By Rebecca Chaplin
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Future of Vauxhall’s huge dealer network uncertain as brand terminates contracts with all 326 sites

Managing director revealed that all dealer groups would be issued with notice on April 30, though the majority should receive new contract proposals within weeks

Vauxhall intends to serve notice on all its UK dealers in a huge shake-up of the network.

Stephen Norman, managing director of Vauxhall, revealed to the press today that he had been in talks with dealer groups and that they would be issuing notice to all of them on April 30, sparking a two-year termination period.

He said: “Today, all of the Opel and Vauxhall countries, that’s basically all of Europe, have been in contact with the investors (dealer groups) in the Opel and Vauxhall franchises to announce that the decision has been taken to refranchise.

“In other words, we’re terminating all of the current contracts with two years’ notice with effect from April 30 this year, and so the termination will come into effect on April 30, 2020.

“Then, obviously it’s different by market, but in the vast majority of cases we will be proposing in the next few weeks new contracts to the majority of those retail dealers who are currently with us.”

Currently there are 326 Vauxhall dealerships in the UK, owned by 93 different groups, with more than 11,000 people employed within it.

Effectively, this is Vauxhall putting all its dealers under threat of redundancy so it can rehire the ones it wants to keep and shed the ones it wishes to lose.

The shake-up could be a way to cut aging and outdated dealers loose, in a market rapidly moving towards online sales. “Nearly 100 per cent of customers today go online to check their future purchase and a very significant proportion of them are actually going to the dealership with the vehicle pre-configured,” Norman said.

“It’s part physical, part digital, so there are very few purchases today that haven’t at least started online. Of course, that is going to have an effect going forward. By the period of 2020 to 2035, we expect that there will be a greater proportion of online sales.”

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