The boss of Peugeot Citroen Australia (PCA) admits the company is facing challenging times, as it seeks to relaunch after a change of distributorship and management in 2017.
Speaking to CarAdvice at the launch of the all-new Peugeot 5008 mid-sized SUV last week, PCA’s managing director Anouk Poelmann was forthright in her assessment of the brand’s place in the Australian automotive landscape, despite recording an eight per cent year-on-year growth in 2017.
“I like to consistently talk about the French allure, the excellence,” she said. “[But] we have to prove it in everything we are doing. And I think we had a good start with the 3008, but I think it was more from our perspective, it was probably more a product launch than a brand launch. I think what we are trying to do now is to have a product launch AND a brand launch.”
Poelman acknowledged the brand needed to lift its position in the local market.
“We want to do better,” she said. “We want to turn around the business. And there’s not one button you can press and suddenly everything is perfect. So it’s everything; it’s the marketing; it’s the relationship with the dealer; it’s the profitability of the dealer; it’s standing up for a good product.”
That last point, is one of the biggest hurdles Poelmann believes the brand has to overcome in Australia – sourcing the right product for our market from head office in France.
“If the brand and if the engineers and the manufacturer believe in the market, then you get the product [you want],” she admitted candidly. “The last few years have not been very good for the brand. And if you are in a negative spiral, then you are not getting any more what you need.”
However, Poelmann stressed that under new direction in Australia, Peugeot HQ in France was now more receptive to local needs.
“I think we are now in a situation… Now we are on the radar. And we can put the cards on the table,” said Poelmann. “And again, for them it’s also a balance between ‘do we do this for Australia? Or do we do this for Holland?’, for example. They also have their positions to make but we can put our demands on the table. And they are listening to us.
“It’s a nice challenge for us because we need to perform. If you get better and better and start growing, then you get more of what you need.”
Peugeot sold 3392 vehicles in Australia in 2017, a rise of 8.4 per cent on 2016. A large part of that growth can be attributed to the company’s range of SUVs, the 2008 (584 sales, an uplift of 62.4 per cent on 2016) and the all-new 3008 mid-sized SUV, which found 962 new homes in 2017, its first year on sale in Australia.