The new Australian distributor for Groupe PSA – the company that oversees the Peugeot, Citroen and DS brands – has given us some insights regarding its plans for our market.
Last month it was announced that PSA had signed Inchape as its new distribution partner here, replacing Sime Darby. Inchcape is also responsible for Subaru here, so it has runs on the board.
The DS luxury brand focused largely on China won't come here for the foreseeable future.
Inchcape has its work cut out. Peugeot dipped 22 per cent last year, after a consistent sales slide since 2007 – it sold 8807 units then, but over a decade that number slumped to just 3129.
Citroen was down 12.7 per cent in 2016 despite launching the feted new C4 Cactus crossover, while DS sales (bundled under the Citroen brand for reporting purposes) were down solidly as well.
While new management says it's still working on confidential plan, Inchcape Australasia CEO Nick Senior threw us some crumbs to tide us over.
Here's the Q&A.
What is the product outlook for PSA?
The outlook is strong, with the new 3008 (European Car of the Year) launching in Q3 2017 and the 5008 (7 seat version of 3008) to be launched later in the year.
What can we expect with your sales and marketing strategy?
Peugeot will build on its traditional passenger car strengths but the momentum will come from the new wave of SUVs and cross-overs, starting with the 3008 in a few months’ time, and then the new 5008 later in the year.
Citroen will be targeted at a younger target audience but it will also be the torch-bearer brand for light commercials where we see considerable potential.
What are your volume ambitions?
We have drawn up a business plan with PSA to build upon the exciting, strong and relevant pipeline for both the Peugeot and Citroen brands. We are confident that we will be able to deliver on our strategic objectives outlined in that plan.
Due to the commercial sensitivity of these plans, we are not in a position to disclose any further information at this time.
What are your plans for DS?
We have no immediate plans for DS but we do not rule anything out and are open to pursuing opportunities which fit the Ignite strategic objective of investing to accelerate growth. We have agreed with PSA to revisit DS in H2 next year.
Will there be any changes to the dealer network?
Despite the challenges there have been some standout performers in the dealer network – Bayside European in Melbourne for instance. We are in the process of reviewing our existing dealer network and any substantive changes will be announced in due course.
We are keen to have more Peugeot/Citroen dealers rather than dealers representing each of the brands. However, this is a work in progress.
Trivett Automotive Retail is an important part of the Group, and we expect the PSA brands will be included into their existing retail dealership network in due course.
Are there likely to be any personnel changes?
We are currently in the process of finalising a new GM appointment and we will make an announcement in the coming weeks.
The vast majority (all bar three) of the former Sime Darby employees have joined Inchcape; they have embraced the change and have been welcomed into the Inchcape family.