Vauxhall and Opel are to ‘terminate’ every single dealer franchise across Europe, in a huge and unprecedented upheaval of the brand’s operation.
Around 1600 dealers across Europe will apparently be given two years’ notice from 30 April that their right to sell Vauxhall or Opel cars will be taken away. Some will eventually be invited to reapply for what is now a PSA-controlled franchise, but many will simply have the business removed, according to reports.
Crashing Vauxhall sales last year are partly behind the cost-saving move. In the UK, Vauxhall’s 326 dealers will be slimmed down to around 200; a similar number to what Volkswagen has. Many of those franchises could be awarded to existing Citroen and Peugeot dealers.
Around 12,000 Vauxhall dealership employees are now placed in the awkward position of not knowing whether or not they should be looking for other work. Stephen Norman, Vauxhall’s UK managing director, has optimistically claimed that no one’s job will be lost “as a direct consequence” of the move, and that staff at closing sites will simply be able to find work in other dealerships.
The move is hoped to drive profitability for the brand by trimming the metaphorical fat, which is to say those dealerships that don’t make enough money or don’t rank highly enough for sales figures, aftersales profits or customer satisfaction.
The decision is not related to the UK’s decision to leave the EU, Mr Norman added, and PSA has already decided to raise van production rates at the company’s Luton factory. That said, the Ellesmere Port facility, where the decreasingly popular Astra is built, is in jeopardy.