Stellantis has called all franchise holders in the UK to a last-minute special meeting next Wednesday.
An email was sent to franchise holders today by Stellantis boss Alison Jones asking all franchise holders to attend a virtual meeting on May 19.
Several franchise partners for the brands in the UK have contacted Car Dealer expressing their concerns at what the content of the meeting will be about.
Rumours circulating in the networks include a possible move to merging some of the Stellantis brands under one roof.
Peugeot, Citroen, DS Automobiles, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Abarth, Jeep and Alfa Romeo are all now run by Jones.
Vauxhall, which is also owned by Stellantis – previously PSA before its merger with FCA – is not under the same umbrella and run separately by former Nissan Europe chairman Paul Willcox.
Willcox took over from Stephen Norman, who moved to a global role earlier this year.
A separate meeting for Vauxhall dealers is scheduled to be held on the same day.
The last-minute meeting came as a shock to franchise holders and set tongues wagging in the network as to what it will mean.
One franchise partner told Car Dealer: ‘We have been called to this meeting which will be held virtually.
‘There are plenty of rumours doing the rounds as to what it might be about – some think there will be a mass firing and then rehiring of dealers under new terms, others think it may be an announcement about a move towards an agency sales model.
‘Whatever it is, it was announced at the last minute, and doesn’t feel like it will be good news. I could be wrong, but that won’t stop me worrying.’
- We discuss the news on the latest Car Dealer Podcast
A spokesperson for Stellantis did not deny the meetings were taking place next week but said it had ‘no comment to make at this time’.
Since the merger between PSA and FCA, industry watchers have been wondering how the brands may work closer together.
Multi franchised sites, where more than one brand are sold at the same dealership, are in fashion and allow dealers to share back office resources.
Robert Forrester, CEO of Vertu Motors, has been a big supporter of such set-ups and said in this week’s annual results that the group planned more.
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He said: ‘The group continues to actively manage its dealership portfolio including the regular assessment of viability and returns achieved from each business and franchise and the potential for property gains and cash generation from the portfolio.
‘Execution of multi-franchising, in order to maximise potential returns of each location, is seen as a key element of the group’s strategy in this regard.
‘Increased flexibility of manufacturer representation requirements and varying formats will aid this process, allowing investment levels to be reasonable and multi-franchising to be increased.’
Among all of the manufacturers currently selling in the UK, Stellantis would be best placed to maximise returns via multi franchise sites.