Barry’s Blog….will ‘the pout’ pull-in showroom traffic?

  05 July 2010

Range Rover has worked hard – and with success – at countering its expensive, gas-guzzling image. I hope the appointment of Victoria Beckham as a new design executive doesn’t undo the good work.

Victoria Beckham is good at two things; being a celebrity and pouting. We all know that her input into the design of future models will be minimal. Heaven forbid that the next generation should hit the showrooms with a pouting grille or that the brand’s cheapest, greenest, model should be hampered by the well- reported expensive, luxury life-style of Posh.

Range Rover is certainly one of the world’s most highly regarded vehicles and has been a continuing success. The new Evoque could be the company’s most important launch to ensure that dealers are able to continue that growth. The last thing dealers need is a back-lash brought about by Victoria’s frivolous life-style.

On the other hand, there is much to be said for celebrity power. After Wayne Rooney was photographed carrying a pillow (which plays soothing music to help him sleep) on to the plane taking him to South Africa, last month, a director of the manufacturer told me they sold 50,000 of the pillows within 2-weeks. That was 10-times the amount they sold in the whole of last year. So I mustn’t be too cynical about the Posh Pout.

MIND THE GAP
Neither should I be too disparaging about Ford’s news this week that it is ready to reduce list prices as from next month on its small and medium vehicles. Although Ford is considered the price-setter in the UK, its decision to raise prices, last year, seemed to have back-fired when some rivals didn’t follow suit. Huge discounts at Ford showrooms followed until in April, the manufacturer reduced prices of its large cars.

That generated an immediate effect for dealers and Ford Dealer Council chairman, Kevin Quigg, said this week that dealers ‘are delighted to see the company continuing to lead the market by applying the initiative across the entire Ford car range’.

But with the news comes a cost – reduced dealer margins. So in order to get prices back to parity, dealers will have to bear some of the cost. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. All I can say to dealers, generally, is to mind the gap in those margins.

Have a great week, both in and out of the showroom. If you have a story for us, email barry@auto-retail.com
Barry Hook

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