Vaux­hall says no jobs will be lost as it ter­mi­nates deal­er­ships

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Alan Tovey

VAUX­HALL is ter­mi­nat­ing the con­tracts of all its 326 deal­er­ships in Britain as the com­pany bat­tles to deal with plung­ing sales and a chang­ing mar­ket.

The mar­que is end­ing all dealer con­tracts in the UK – a move also hap­pen­ing with sis­ter brand Opel across Europe – as the en­tire sales net­work is re­or­gan­ised.

Some 1,600 deal­ers across the pan-Euro­pean net­work will be given two years’ no­tice from April 30 that the man­u­fac­turer is end­ing its re­la­tion­ship with them, and propos­ing a new con­tract with about two-thirds of them.

About 12,000 staff are em­ployed in fran­chisees’ UK deal­er­ships but Stephen Nor­man, Vaux­hall’s UK boss, in­sisted that staff would not lose their jobs as a “di­rect re­sult” of Vaux­hall’s de­ci­sion to re­fran­chise the net­work.

“Based on 42 years ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try and hav­ing been through four of these net­work re­fran­chis­ings, I do not ex­pect jobs to be threat­ened,” he said. “I don’t want to ‘de-drama­tise’ it, but re­fran­chis­ing is not some­thing that doesn’t hap­pen at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals in the mo­tor in­dus­try. No­body is be­ing sacked. The vast ma­jor­ity of fran­chises will con­tinue as be­fore.

“We do not ex­pect a re­duc­tion in the num­ber of re­tail dealer out­lets as a re­sult of this ac­tion. Peo­ple will find work in other fran­chises,” he added, in­sist­ing that “sim­ple” facts about de­mand for cars in the UK in­di­cated they would be able to find em­ploy­ment “per­haps with other deal­ers”. Mr Nor­man said that Vaux­hall – which was bought along with Opel last year for £1.9bn by France’s PSA Group from GM – would still be Britain’s sec­ond-largest dealer net­work af­ter the re­struc­tur­ing, but would be “go from be­ing the sec­ond largest af­ter Ford to closer to the third largest”. This sug­gests about 200 deal­er­ships will re­main.

Sales of Vaux­hall cars have been fall­ing for some time but the de­cline ac­cel­er­ated last year, drop­ping 22pc – more than three times the 5.7pc fall seen across the wider UK mar­ket. Last year Vaux­hall sold 195,000 cars in the UK.

Bot­tle bank Ivan Menezes, chief ex­ec­u­tive of drinks giant Di­a­geo, at its head­quar­ters in Ed­in­burgh, where he an­nounced a £150m in­vest­ment over three years which, it is hoped, will “trans­form” its Scotch whisky vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ences.

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