Close Motor Company’s Corby dealership has become a Suzuki showroom after 21 years with Mitsubishi at the site.
It took on the Suzuki brand as a fully operational franchise at the beginning of January, following last year’s announcement by Mitsubishi that it was pulling out of Europe.
Director and dealer principal Simon Close told Car Dealer how much the company was looking forward to working with its new partner – but saddened that Mitsubishi was no longer at Corby after such a long time there.
The High Street showroom, which employs 15 people, has space for a 10-car display inside and up to 30 used cars on its forecourt.
Close Motor Company also has a site in Peterborough, where it has held the Mitsubishi franchise since 2016, and he said it was fully committed to the brand for that area, where it will look after Mitsubishi customers who had been dealt with by the Corby branch.
Close said: ‘I’ve enjoyed 21 great years with the Mitsubishi brand at Corby – half of my life – and we continue that relationship at Peterborough.
‘We have some exceptional memories of Mitsubishi and are very thankful to them for that and very sad that it had to come to an end in Corby.’
He added: ‘We were very fortunate and very grateful to be given the opportunity of Suzuki who are an exceptional brand. Suzuki have made the transition really pleasant and have been great people to deal with.
‘It’s a new dawn for us and it’s going to be new for our customers. Suzuki have been great – really positive with us. We’ve struck up a great relationship straight away with them.
‘It feels like a natural fit for our business as well – they’re very customer-focused, very loyal to their customers and work in partnership with their dealerships, and we’re looking forward to working with them and growing that relationship.
‘It will be a significant part of our business and we will treat it with that respect.’
Close described why he was attracted to the Suzuki brand, saying: ‘It’s one that I’ve always looked at from afar and admired.
‘When I started to look into it, it had the first all-model hybrid product in the UK, and that’s got to be great for the mood of where everything is at the moment with regard to emissions and the health of everybody.
‘The cars are exceptionally well built and specced. They’re mainstream but quirky – they build cars that people want at the moment.’
And although launching during lockdown hadn’t exactly been ideal, he said Suzuki had been very supportive with investment. ‘I couldn’t speak highly enough of them, to be honest with you.’
Close added: ‘We’ve got a 10,000-strong database across the business and it’s going to be strange for some of them coming in and seeing things slightly differently.
‘But we remain committed to looking after everybody the best we can, doing the best job for every manufacturer we’re working for, and protecting jobs in the area.’
The Suzuki franchise for the north Northamptonshire area became available after dealer group Progress Suzuki’s parent company Progress Bedford (Holdings) Ltd hit problems and was understood to have gone into receivership.