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Together again: Peugeot and Citroen dealers around Australia now feel greater certainty about the future of the brands they represent.

Peugeot and Citroen dealers enthusiastic about new CI direction, product pipeline

23 Jul 2019

PEUGEOT Citroen Australia (PCA) says dealer morale has been significantly boosted since the company simultaneously outlined its new CI, product pipeline and long-term business direction to dealers, business partners and the media in April.


In addition to establishing a unique shared showroom presence for more than 30 Peugeot and Citroen dealerships by using the latter brand’s La Maison format to deliver an informal concession-style space, PCA has shifted all light-commercial business to Peugeot while streamlining the overall number of models and variants offered.


Now that Citroen has been rebooted in Australia with its freshest, most relevant model line-up in years, PCA will take a “pragmatic and frugal” approach to reversing the sustained sales slump that has resulted in combined Peugeot and Citroen sales shrinking from more than 12,600 units in 2007 to just 3332 in 2018.


PCA executives at this month’s C5 Aircross launch in Sydney refused to be drawn on sales projections or how quickly the turnaround would happen, instead highlighting the company’s newly cautious and iterative approach.


PCA PR and corporate affairs manager Tyson Bowen admitted that, in Australia, Peugeot and Citroen had “tried to do ‘big bang’ stuff and learned from those successes and failures”.


PCA general manager of marketing Kate Gillis concurred: “It’s not about the vanity of ‘look at our vastness and what we can do’, it’s actually doing it a lot more pragmatically and simply.


“Starting off for that sustainability, we need to be quite frugal in terms of our approach and get that right before we start to move forward.”


Mr Bowen told GoAuto the April event was particularly effective because everybody involved “knew that what we were saying was on the record because journalists were present”.


After the April tell-all, PCA managing director Ben Farlow and national sales manager Daniel Morris followed up with one-on-one and group dealer meetings.


“The enthusiasm and the mood of the room was very different to what it may have been about 12 months ago,” said Mr Bowen.


Having recently joined PCA, Ms Gillis observed: “It’s interesting and being introduced to dealers in the past couple of weeks, they themselves have admitted there has been a 180 on their thinking around the brand.”


She said that compared with a year ago when dealers were starting to reduce showroom space allocated to PCA brands and questioning their future, the conversation has switched to “how quickly can I get La Maison” and “how quickly can I get this up and running”.


“That’s a tell-tale for me that we’ve got a dealer network that’s completely onboard,” Ms Gillis said.


“If they feel like a passenger, we’re never going to build this thing to what we would like it to be. We’re bringing them on the journey and that’s a distinct difference.”


Mr Bowen described the reaction as “a shift in mindset”.


He said: “This is not a rebuild or a relaunch, it’s a reset. It’s drawing a line in the sand and saying, ‘This is what you need from us, here it is and let’s move together.’


“It is now them coming to us and saying, ‘How can we work together to make this happen?'”


Time will tell whether PCA manages to pull off this turnaround in Australia’s second consecutive year of declining new-car sales.


“Some of these dealers have been with us for a very, very long time, through thick and thin. They’ve got some very loyal customers and they all deserve to see the success and be exposed to the product and all these great things,” said Mr Bowen.


“They’re buoyed by what they’re seeing from product and also what they’re seeing in plans of what we intend to do.”

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