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HSV changes dealer dynamics

New wave: Better presentation and more sales are required to remain an HSV dealer.

Improved quality and a restructure are considered vital to HSV's future

12 Nov 2001

HOLDEN Special Vehicles has identified an improvement of dealer presentation and rationalisation of dealer numbers as crucial parts of its business plan over the next two years.

The strategy is being developed with Holden, whose dealers host all 60 current HSV outlets.

HSV general manager Chris Payne would not nominate an exact figure he would like the network cut back to, but said there would be "a degree of rationalisation over the next few years".

"I think next year is going to be critical for us in that regard and it's certainly one of our business priorities for us for the next 12 months to two years," he said.

HSV's strategy is to exploit Holden's own plan for dealer amalgamations such as recently occurred in western Sydney. That way HSV displays and sales would be covered from a single site and serviced by a group's various satellites.

Mr Payne said he expected only a few current dealers to simply hand their franchises in as HSV ramped up its expectation on corporate identification and customer care.

"There's none of them that don't sell any cars but there is a number who only sell a relatively small number of cars and that's where the economics of it become difficult for the dealer," he said.

"The customer has certain expectations and the dealer is not always able to provide that expectation, when his through-put at HSV is relatively small." Mr Payne nominated Zupps (Brisbane), Suttons (Sydney) and Booran Holden (Melbourne) as excellent examples of the standard of site expected by HSV and its customers.

"These are among the dealers who have recognised that the HSV customer has an expectation of something different, that they want to deal with us in a unique environment," he said.

The plan to rationalise comes while HSV is considering expansion beyond its Commodore-based predominantly V8-based product line-up.

"That's part of the equation, but we are not greedy about what that volume will be," Mr Payne said.

"No matter where we end up with an expanded model range in the future, don't expect that to be silly numbers because at the end of the day what people are buying is a degree of exclusivity and if we build one too many we can do some damage to that brand image." One showroom that will soon be opening is in HSV's new headquarters, which should be up and operating in December.

Starting this month, about 150 HSV administration, design and some engineering staff will move into the new facility, which is literally a 30-second walk from the current headquarters on the same Clayton, Melbourne, site.

HSV's production line stays in the old Nissan plant while the engineering workshop and some CAD staff will be moved into a second new building over the next few months.

The showroom is not a retail site but part of the reception area of the new HQ, which will also have a merchandise and apparel shop, as well as a display of HSV and HRT history, memorabilia and photography.

Members of the public will also be able to look through a glass wall into HSV's CAD area from the foyer.

However, when confidential work is being done, the shutters will be drawn.

Total cost of the renovation and move is about $2 million.

"This building gives us the opportunity to house everybody under the one roof, but also it's time - 14 years later - that HSV showed a fresh face," Mr Payne said.

Ford opens showcase dealership

FORD Australia is also upping the ante on the retail front, opening a new showcase dealership in Rockdale, Sydney, last week.

Part of the Sydney Retail Joint Venture (RJV) operation, in which Ford Australia has a shareholding, the City Ford Rockdale dealership is fitted with luxurious showrooms and customer facilities, as well as a state-of-the-art parts and service department.

"This spectacular new site is the next step in a long-term strategy to provide better service to vehicle buyers in Sydney," said Sydney RJV chief executive Martin Ward.

The dealership, on the Princes Highway, will replace City Ford's satellite site in Mascot and the Dominelli Ford site in Hurstville.

Earlier this year, the Sydney RJV opened a dedicated light truck centre at Five Dock, west of Sydney.

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