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Citroen plans local focus

Date: 19 December 2006   |   Author: Hugh Hunston

Ian Huges - Citroen

Citroen plans to double its retail network's business centre presence to 60 dedicated outlets next year, a strategy designed to underpin a projected 60% business car sales element for the new C4 Picasso MPV.

In common with moves by BMW, Skoda and sister car maker Peugeot, Citroen is aiming for a "significant part of the local community sub-25 units fleet market", according to the head of the company's corporate sales department, Ian Hughes.

This, he said, involved a holistic approach to training, education and recruitment while complementing a "seismic change in the way we introduce cars. With the C4 Picasso it is night and day".

Citroen launched its business car charm offensive for the new compact seven-seat MPV in November, with eight area fleet managers taking a roadshow to 20 fleets a week.

Central to Hughes' plan is the establishment of stronger RVs - assisted by demand expected to outstrip supply - plus majoring on whole-life costs and SMR figures.

Hughes said: "We're investing in raising awareness levels, hitting the ground running with C4 Picasso. This included doing very early work with the RV guides. We have opened up to them to maximise RVs."

Hughes continued: "Our restructuring means a greater emphasis on and relevance to fleets, which provide half of our sales. We are being taken more seriously."

Hughes cited a series of presentations to 20 top leasing firms, who he reasoned "seek a more diverse choice list to spread RV risks, a more balanced portfolio. C4 Picasso has greater fleet relevance than Xsara".

Although Citroen does not plan to extend its business-specific VTX model approach from the Xsara Picasso to its C4 equivalent, Hughes admitted: "We are reviewing other cars and this application. It comes under the work in progress heading."

Meanwhile, Citroen UK's managing director Xavier Duchemin defended the decision to offer the flagship 2.0-litre petrol and diesel C4 Picassos only with six-speed electronic gearboxes and no manual option.

He said: "We do not anticipate any resistance from customers, retail or corporate. It generates less CO2 and better fuel consumption and is only £500 dearer than the manual with the smaller-engined variants."