BMW wants exclusive Mini sales network
Dealers that cannot afford investment to separate the brands are being dropped
The number of Mini dealers in Europe will drop to about 650 by year-end from 750 in 2007.
BMW is asking dealers that sell BMW and Mini brands in the same showrooms to separate the two brands. Smaller dealers that cannot afford to invest in brand separation are being dropped.
“We want all dealers to distinguish their stores from BMW even if they’re under the same roof,” Mini’s dealer development manager, Martin Wallenborn, said.
BMW has told Mini dealers in cities and metropolitan areas to create separate entrances, reception and service desks for each brand.
Dealers with more space are being urged to create stand-alone Mini stores following tight design standards laid down by national sales organizations.
Mini’s 1,500 dealers in 70 countries worldwide sold 222,875 cars in 2007. In the first nine months, Mini’s global sales were up 12.1 percent to 184,915 units.
Most Mini dealers in the US operate stand-alone showrooms. In Europe, Mini’s change to a stand-alone network is most advanced in Germany and the UK.
Emmanuel Bret, Mini’s French brand manager, said dealers in France support the idea of making the brand more exclusive.
Bret said Mini is strict about separation because Mini is a different brand than BMW. “Customers who want to buy a Mini don’t want to go to a BMW dealer,” he said.
The number of Mini dealers in France has fallen to 120 from 157 last year.
Said Bret: “We dropped anyone doing less than 100 cars a year because they would not be able to make the kind of investments we want to see.”