Ford informed investor partners today that it will close almost half of its 400 UK franchised car retail sites as part of a ‘Ford 2025 dealer plan’.

The news was announced on Wednesday 26th February at a conference to investor partners.

AM Online reported that 210-230 dealerships will be closed under the plan, which the brand said had been formed “in spirit of a partnership” with dealers and their investors to build a “stronger and more sustainably profitable Ford sales and servicing network for the future in the UK”.

This is the largest quantity of UK car retail sites to date, and follows a number of closures from Vauxhall and Honda in 2018.

Ford of Britain chairman and managing director Andy Barrett told AM Online that the ‘Ford 2025 dealer plan’ had resulted in a map of the UK that would see dealerships accessible to 90% of customers within a 30-minute drive.

He also mentioned that a local and personalised aftersales service would hopefully be retained, with the majority or all of the 210 to 230 departing sales locations remaining as aftersales providers.

Barratt said: “I would be happy if we retained all those partners.

“There will be no terminating of contracts as part of this plan and I fully appreciate and value the relationships that we have with our retailers.

“Many have invested family savings and generations of work into their businesses. I really do hope that we will continue to work together moving forward.”

In its official statement, Ford said that its dealer network and Ford of Britain national sales company had undergone restructuring over the past two decades, bu added that “dealer network profitability is still not sustainable”.

According to data published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Ford sold 236,137 vehicles in 2019, 7% down on 2018’s 254,082.

Barratt said: “We are a large volume player and those are the sorts of targets that our partners should be aiming to achieve.”

Ford said that it would now become a more targeted business with a strong focus on growing its CV business and providing passenger vehicle customers with a more defined portfolio, shifting towards new automotive trends, including: electrification, connectivity, car-sharing and online sales.

Its statement said: “We are working together in a spirit of partnership with our dealers and their investors to build a stronger and more sustainably profitable Ford sales and servicing network for the future in the UK, which works for the mutual benefit of our businesses and for our commercial and passenger vehicle customers.

“We currently have around 400 vehicle selling points in the UK. Our goal is to create a network of around 210-230 sales sites over the next five years.

“Customers will not be unduly inconvenienced when buying a new vehicle; there will continue to be a Ford selling site within easy reach for the majority of our customers, with around 90% of the population within a 30-minute drive of a Ford sales point. Many of the existing smaller sales sites will be converted into vehicle servicing centres to further improve our customer service capability.”

Ford told AM that The UK was an important part of its European transformation and continued to be a critical market.

The UK remains Ford’s largest European sales market for commercial and passenger vehicles.

Image credit: Eric Jones

 

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