Dealer group Drive Motor Retail has opened its first multi-franchise dealership, bringing Citroen and Vauxhall brands under one roof.
The news puts multi-franchising – a dealership with more than one franchise – into the limelight after years of being frowned upon.
The new combined Citroen and Vauxhall dealership in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, is now open for business while a new dedicated Citroen showroom is scheduled to open in June.
The site has been owned by the company since 2018 and will be home to Drive’s first Citroen franchise.
Chris Shutt, general manager at Drive Stockton, said: ‘We completed the franchise agreement in October and since then have already sold 30 new Citroen cars with many more expected.
‘The purpose-built Citroen showroom will be finished in June, but people are clearly keen to come in and see the cars sooner, with appointments booking up already.’
Shut added: ‘There was previously a Citroen dealership in the area, but it closed around a year ago and since then Citroen customers in Teesside have had to travel further afield.
‘We’re looking forward to meeting these people, getting to know them, and showing them how we work at Drive – putting people at the heart of everything we do.’
Shutt said that the company had taken on five members of staff from the nearby closed Citroen dealership.
Rob Keenan, group joint managing director at Drive, added: ‘We expect this to be the first of many multi-franchise operations with the PSA network and we look forward to broadening our portfolio, throughout the coming months.’
Multi-franchising – a new trend?
With Drive expecting to open more combined-brand showrooms it puts the multi-franchising trend into the spotlight.
The practise of having multiple brands under one roof has been discouraged in the past, but is now gaining favour.
Vertu Motors chief executive Robert Forrester recently told Car Dealer it’s ‘only a matter of time’ before premium brands – traditionally the most reluctant to share showroom space – come together under one roof.
Speaking to Car Dealer Live (in the video which you can watch below), Forrester said: ‘My view is that even some of the premium manufacturers will look at this as they rejig their networks.
‘You might have a very large brand centre and you could have other spokes that could be multi franchise.’
The Vertu boss revealed that the company is already in talks with some prestige brands about bringing them together at digital-led dealerships.