Robins & Day – PSA UK’s own dealer group – has rebuilt its flagship store in West London from the ground up.
The unique Chiswick dealership stretches to the very edges of the site’s boundaries and has no parking outside.
Instead, customers drive into the building and park on the first floor. Climbing up through the four-storey building, the new site is more department store than car dealership.
Peugeot, Citroen and DS showrooms are all hived off and the ground floor is dedicated to used cars – all contained inside under the bright lights.
Car Dealer visited the dealership for its official opening and chief executive of Robins & Day James Weston showed us around for a special video, which you can watch above.
He explained how the inspiration for this new layout came from their DS Urban Store in Westfield Shopping Centre, where VIP parking brought customers straight to the front door.
That concept was echoed here.
‘The vehicle does the movement on the various floors either for aftersales, repairs or whatever it may be,’ said Weston.
‘It was really important for us because usually the parking at a dealership is behind the used cars and demonstration vehicles, wherever you can find a space.
‘We wanted it to take the centre stage.’
The revolutionary changes aren’t simply driving and parking inside. The layout starts at the centre of the building where people walk into the aftersales department and beyond that are the showroom floors.
It’s almost a reverse Apple Store where problems are dealt with front and centre, and from there customers move to the three high-ceilinged, brand-orientated showrooms beyond.
Weston explains: ‘When the customers come through again, it’s light, it’s airy, you’re straight into aftersales which is different to a traditional dealership where aftersales is tucked at the back.
‘What we wanted to do was build something that’s different. We wanted to change the experience behind motor retailing rather than just build a big dealership on layers.
‘We wanted to try and change the customer experience for the better.’
Those walking in on ground level will find themselves in a used car showroom that occupies almost the entire group floor apart from where the brand new, state-of-the-art workshop is located.
Weston explained: ‘Especially as we go into the winter months, to have all of these [used] vehicles inside and the ability to display them and offer test drives is phenomenal.
‘I remember when myself and the general manager first came here, and all of the cars were facing forward.
‘We both walked around and didn’t get the buzz – we knew it wasn’t right.
‘We’d just gone traditional and faced the cars towards the road, but we don’t need to because the flow of customers is within as well as external and that’s changing the format.’
PSA Group UK managing director Alison Jones was there at the opening and spoke about the difficulties of finishing the site during lockdown, but also why it’s so important for the group.
She said: ‘The challenge of getting this done during lockdown is all of the practical challenges we’ve had as we’ve lived our lives. How can you continue to build in store and finalise a building when you’re socially distancing and with all of the PPE?
‘It was quite challenging before and then you add to it the Covid safety and it makes it really challenging but, of course, safety is the most important aspect.
‘The team pulled together and found a way through it.’
For Weston, getting this redevelopment sorted was one of his first jobs as CEO but it’s even more significant for him as he also started with the dealer group as an assistant manager at this location when it was just Peugeot.
Now the three brands sit proudly side-by-side, overlooking the busy Hogarth Roundabout in Chiswick where thousands of eyes will see them every day.
Weston said: ‘I remember when I started at this site as an assistant sales manager back in 2001, parking up at an admin showroom down the end and it has transformed massively.
‘Getting the build validated, one of my first roles as CEO was to get that done, that was enormous and it showed the confidence in the wider group and our ability to deliver profitably.
‘But the actual site itself, it pulls many heartstrings and seeing it when it was all boarded up I just wanted to get inside it.
‘To be here today, unveiling plaques, meeting the team, and unlocking the potential of this site, it’s something I’ll never forget.’