Michael Cole, the marque’s UK MD exclusively told Car Dealer, that these inner city areas are proving the hardest to fill – despite interest in the brand blossoming.
‘These locations typically require a large investment,’ he said. ‘But the real problem is finding the right location and property.’
Cole added potential new franchisees had been knocking down his door in the past year – with the marque’s success under scrappage playing a major part in this interest.
‘We’re attracting interest from PLCs,’ he said. ‘But mostly its regional groups that are interested. However it’s important not to forget the great work our many owner operators have put in – some have been with Kia for 20 years – and it’s these dealers that have stuck by the brand as we’ve grown.’
A number of other open points for the manufacturer are in advanced stages of negotiation and Cole is determined to get these in place before 2011.
‘Next year will be a massive year for the brand and we need to make sure these partners are in place and ready to sell the products we have coming,’ he told Car Dealer.
‘Typically these negotiations take time, so we need to work hard to get them in place soon.’
Cole told press assembled at the launch of the Venga and Sorento models in Spain that 2010 would be a ‘tough year’.
He predicted registrations for the UK to be around 1.8m, but is determined to see Kia match its scrappage performance of 2010 when it registered more than 50,000 cars.
‘I want us to match or exceed that this year,’ he said. ‘But it will be tough. Three to four years ago we had a reputation for being a budget brand. But now we’re seen as makers of reliable, affordable and stylish cars with a seven-year warranty.
‘That shows our confidence in the products and think it will go a long way to helping sales in 2010.’
Exclusive by JAMES BAGGOTT