Opel shakes up its German dealer network

Ruesselsheim, Germany. Opel is expanding its sales network in Germany and reducing the demands it makes on its dealers.

Jean-Marc Gales, Opel's new German sales director, is no longer demanding a minimum number of unit sales from dealers.

"We will reduce standards, processes and sales programs to a sensible number so that our dealers are able to focus on what is most essential: selling," Gales said.

He also plans to raise dealer margins. "The basic structure will remain the same. But I want to give better bonuses again for higher volumes," Gales said.

Dealers' average net profit should "rise to about 1.5 percent" by 2006, Gales said, up from the what he said is below 1 percent.

After taking up his new post in October, Gales identified about 100 gaps in Opel's German dealer network.

"I have reduced the number to 70," he said. "By the end of the year it will only be 50."

Opel's sales network consists of 493 authorized dealers, 1,480 authorized service partners and 533 authorized agents.

Gales will be the "direct contact person" for the 10 largest Opel dealer groups in Germany, which sell about 85,000 vehicles a year and account for a quarter of Opel's German unit sales.

Opel also plans to increase its fleet market share to 12 percent from 8 percent. The automaker will target Germany's blue chip companies to boost fleet sales. The GM subsidiary also plans to employ 150 fleet sales personnel on six-month contracts starting in January 2005.

Opel also wants to simplify its model ranges. New models are now only available in four variants -- a basic model, a sports car, an upscale version and a special edition model.

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