French automotive brands Peugeot and Citroen are making their most concerted effort yet to get a foothold in the highly competitive Australian market by joining forces and combining their dealerships.
In what is claimed to be a world first, both brands will sell side-by-side and under one roof, after decades of being kept separate.
However, an exception has been made in Australia because is one of the most competitive markets in the world and it’s difficult to get dealers to invest in standalone showrooms.
The first joint Peugeot-Citroen showrooms opened in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta this month (pictured above). Others are due to follow.
The plan is to have 30 of the brand’s 33 dealerships nationally selling both brands under one roof. Two dealers will continue to sell Peugeot only and one will sell Citroen only.
The reboot comes as Peugeot and Citroen pass the two-year anniversary of a new distributor in Australia, Inchcape, the same company that imports Subaru vehicles locally.
Both French brands have been represented by dozens of importers over more than half a century in Australia, but have struggled to gain mainstream acceptance and luxury cache.
Citroen Australia marketing manager Kate Gillis said merging the showrooms is part of a plan to finally give Citroen a “permanent home where it can grow”.
Citroen Australian spokesman Tyson Bowen said:
“For a dealer there’s cost pressures on real estate, cost pressures on floor space. This new approach makes it attractive to a dealer and easier for customers because both brands are under one roof.”
Soon after taking over distribution of Peugeot and Citroen in Australia in June 2017, Inchcape chief executive officer Nick Senior said: “Not for one minute have we under-estimated the challenge ahead (but) both brands have a rich history in Australia which we need to exploit.”
“We need a profitable dealer network and we are a long way from that at the moment. Too many dealers with too small a throughput,” Mr Senior said in August 2017.
A healthy dealer network is key to customer satisfaction, he said, because it means the dealer can deliver a higher level of customer service and support.
“We are very mindful of what is needed in Australia … to meet customer expectations,” said Mr Senior. “Growth is not going to be an easy journey.”