While some premium manufacturers are going purely digital in the near future, selling cars in showrooms is still ‘crucial’ for French luxury brand DS Automobiles, its UK boss has said.
Speaking on Car Dealer Live, DS UK’s new managing director, Jules Tilstone, said showrooms are hugely important for the company and he’ll oversee a sizeable increase in DS’s dealer network.
Around 13 new, bespoke DS showrooms – called DS Stores – are planned to open in the next 18 months, taking the French brand up to 45 locations across the UK.
‘We think we need around 45 dealerships across the UK – at the moment we’re at 32,’ said Tilstone in the exclusive interview that you can watch at the top of this story.
‘What’s fundamental for us is to have a dedicated DS experience when it comes to the showroom.’
The brand currently has two types of outlets in the UK, with DS Salons being DS-branded areas in existing showrooms shared with another brand, and DS Stores being bespoke, standalone dealerships.
The roll-out of DS Salons ceased in 2019 with all subsequent new dealerships being Stores, helping to establish DS as a separate luxury brand in the new Groupe PSA (now Stellantis) parent company.
‘In terms of acceleration, the plan is to upgrade the Salons into Stores to really give that pure DS experience, which our customers are looking for and expect,’ said Tilstone.
He explained offering a showroom experience to customers was ‘crucial’ for a brand like DS.
‘It’s [the showroom experience is] more crucial for a brand like DS. But I still think that for established brands, customers value that relationship with their local retailer,’ said Tilstone.
‘Now, it doesn’t mean that everyone values that relationship – some like to transact online and be managing the whole process online. But I think there is a part of of our audience who do still value that personal interaction, that relationship with someone – not just the brand, but someone.
‘And and I think again, for me, having the choice of both is absolutely the right thing to do for the customer.’
Tilstone’s plan to offer both physical and online experiences chimes against Volvo, which recently announced plans to go purely digital from 2030, but aligns DS with Mazda.
During the past 12 months, DS Automobiles has launched a range of services to satisfy customers who want to transact online – from an end-to-end sales service, through to virtual walkarounds and dedicated DS Concierges who manage the entire sales process for the customer.
The French premium brand is also rumoured to be offering car subscription packages to sit alongside traditional sales next month.
Tilstone was speaking to Car Dealer as he revealed his six-step plan for the future of the DS brand.
Among the goals were increasing brand awareness, targeting the right premium audience and launching two new products this year – the DS 9 saloon and DS 4 hatchback.
Click the video below to watch the full interview