Ford Motor Co.'s Auto Collections are profitable and more dealership consolidations are coming, says the executive overseeing the strategy.
Ford is reworking how it carries out m arket consolidations but will not abandon the Auto Collection strategy, said Robert Rewey, Ford group vice president of consumer services and North America.
'We are going forward. We are not going to sell them out,' Rewey said. 'We have never had any negotiations with any third party to buy them. We haven't had any discussions about withdrawing.'
Recently, some Ford dealers have speculated that the company would walk away from its strategy or sell the Auto Collections to a large dealership group such as AutoNation Inc.
The questions arise because Ford bought a majority interest in its troubled Tulsa (Okla.) Auto Collection in September and took a controlling share of its Utah Auto Collection in October.
The automaker has modified how the consolidations are carried out and at what speed, Rewey said.
For example, Don Thornton, former CEO of the Tulsa Auto Collection, has said the group stumbled when it had to meld 800 employees from eight stores into a cohesive unit doing business a new way. In Utah, dealers are returning to dealerships to tackle employee unrest and turnover, thereby abandoning centralized management.
'We tried to do too much at once,' Rewey said. 'Assimilating the different dealership cultures and changing the processes on the fly was probably having an appetite that was larger than our ability to digest.
'We think we are back on tr ack. They are back on a profitable footing. Some of them always were.'
Auto Collections, which combine multiple dealerships into a single entity owned jointly by Ford and its dealers, operate in Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, Tul sa, San Diego and Rochester, N.Y.