Saturn Corp. may have given birth to it, but the new Saturn retailing company won't be the favored child.
Saturn Retail Enterprises, which could end up owning as many as 150 dealerships, will get no preferential treatment from the factory, vows Joe Kennedy, Saturn Corp.'s vice president of sales, service and marketing. 'There cannot be two classes of retailers,' Kennedy said.
He said Saturn will go out of its way to preserve the trust of individual dealers who might be wary of a chain created by the factory. 'The individual retailers will probably receive the edge in close calls,' he said. Those calls could come over such issues as vehicle allocation or decisions about products or retailing.
Last week the newly formed retail company announced that it had selected Kennedy's boss, Don Hudler, as its CEO. Hudler is retiring as chairman and president of Saturn Corp. after 11 years with the General Motors subsidiary.
Hudler takes over the new chain Jan. 1, inheriting 29 Saturn dealerships in Florida, Arizona, California, Michigan and other states. Those stores have been run quietly by the factory for the past year or so.
In spinning them off, Saturn hopes to create a publicly traded retail chain that is dedicated to the Saturn brand but not controlled by the factory.