Citroën dealers to close

Ser­vice and sales to be of­fered by com­pany sub­sidiary

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - LEILA SAMODIEN

CITROËN deal­er­ships around the coun­try are to shut down ahead of a change in the com­pany that im­ports the French­made cars.

Citroën ve­hi­cles are brought into South Africa by the mo­tor divi­sion of Im­pe­rial Hold­ings, an in­dus­trial ser­vices and re­tail group.

The com­pany, which has had a con­tract with Citroën France since 2001, also owns and man­ages all the 23 Citroën deal­er­ships across the coun­try.

How­ever, Citroën SA gen­eral sales man­ager Ja­son Knight said Im­pe­rial’s con­tract ex­pires at the end of the year.

And from Jan­uary 1, the ve­hi­cles will be im­ported by Citroën it­self.

This means the ex­ist­ing deal­er­ships will have to be shut down as part of the switchover, said Knight. Th­ese will be re­placed by 12 new fran­chise dealers.

In a state­ment, the com­pany de­scribed the change as the start of “an ex­cit­ing new fu­ture” in South Africa.

“Now re­in­forc­ing its ac­tiv­i­ties, the brand will start a new chap­ter in South Africa. From Jan­uary 2010, the com­pany will be fully backed by the man­u­fac­turer and op­er­ate as a sub­sidiary of Citroën France,” it said.

The first of the Citroën dealers have al­ready be­gun to shut down. One of two deal­er­ships in Cape Town – the city cen­tre branch – closed its doors re­cently.

Citroën SA gen­eral man­ager Hil­ton Ralph said the Som­er­set West branch would re­main open “at least un­til Jan­uary”.

Knight said: “Citroën is es­sen­tially com­ing into the coun­try as a wholly owned sub­sidiary of Citroën France. We’re open­ing a new net­work of dealers. From Jan­uary, there’ll be 12 dealers, but that plan is to ex­pand that to 16 by the end of next year.”

He as­sured Citroën clients, how­ever, that they would not be left in the lurch.

They would be able to ser­vice or buy their cars at ex­ist­ing Citroën deal­er­ships un­til the end of this year.

In Cape Town, where there is only one deal­er­ship in Som­er­set West, clients will be able to ser­vice their cars at the Peu­geot deal­er­ships in Cape Town and Tyger­val­ley.

From Jan­uary, clients will be able to ac­cess all the com­pany’s ser­vices at any of the 12 new deal­er­ships, a few of which will be sit­u­ated at the premises of Peu­geot dealers.

Knight said that while Peu­geot and Citroën op­er­ated un­der one com­pany, PSA Peu­geot Citroën, the two were en­tirely dif­fer­ent brands.

He said they were in the process of gear­ing up their data­base, which would en­able them to in­form their clients about the switchover, and let them know where they would be able to get ac­cess to Citroën ser­vices.

This will be done by SMS this week, as well as by let­ters and e-mails, which are ex­pected to be sent out soon.

The com­pany has also set up a cus­tomer care line, which can be reached on 0860 211 112.

PIC­TURE: CINDY WAXA

SWITCHOVER: Citroen in Cape Town has been re­lo­cated to Paar­den Is­land.

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