Premier wants to add more Jaguar, Land Rover dealerships

Ford Motor Co.'s Premier Automotive Group is accelerating the expansion of its Jaguar and Land Rover dealership networks.

In April, Premier Automotive Group anticipated 160 Jaguar points and a comparable number of Land Rover points. Now the group wants each franchise to have more than 200 outlets in the United States, said Vic Doolan, executive director of North American marketing and distribution strategy for Premier Automotive Group.

"We want to expand Jaguar and Land Rover far more quickly than planned," Doolan said. On Jan. 1, Jaguar had 143 franchises in the United States, and Land Rover had 126.

Moreover, Doolan is encouraging the same dealer to own both Jaguar and Land Rover stores. Common ownership will create larger, stronger dealerships that can compete with other luxury makes.

For example, in 2000 Lexus led the luxury brands with 1,170 sales per dealership.

Mercedes was second at 663. In contrast, Jaguar recorded 312 sales per dealership and Land Rover 221.

Ford Motor's decision in August to combine its three British brands - Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin - into a single business unit within Premier Automotive Group paved the way for common ownership and network expansion.

New stores will open in markets such as Huntsville, Ala.; Green Bay, Wis.; and Augusta, Ga., Doolan said. Premier Automotive Group still plans to add Jaguar and Land Rover points in metropolitan markets.

'Good' business

Premier Automotive Group is encouraging the expansion because Jaguar's car line and Land Rover's sport-utility line are complementary, Doolan said. "Together they cover the full spectrum of the market," he said.

The increased sales outlets also will help boost used-vehicle sales volume and create more service points for customers, Doolan said. He declined to disclose a timetable for attaining the expanded sales network.

In April, Premier Automotive Group had expected to open eight to 10 luxury campuses annually, housing any combination of its brands, Doolan said.

Now the focus is on expanding the Jaguar and Land Rover networks faster.

Jaguar and Land Rover may share a roof, but the vehicles will be sold from separate showrooms conveying each brand's distinctive style, Doolan said.

Qualified dealers holding a Premier Automotive Group franchise will be offered first crack at the new Jaguar and Land Rover points, he said. "As we expand Land Rover and Jaguar, the first two franchises we will talk to are Volvo and Lincoln Mercury," Doolan said.

Dealers holding Land Rover and Jaguar franchises may opt to sell to one or the other, combine operations or remain independent, Doolan said.

No changes for Volvo

Premier Automotive Group plans no changes in Volvo representation, he said, describing the Volvo network as "mature." Volvo will focus on increasing sales in California and attracting more buyers from the African-American, Latino and Asian communities, he said.

Forty Jaguar and 40 Land Rover points now are paired under the same owner. Twenty-five of the 40 pairs sell vehicles from the same location.

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