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Mazda targets user-choosers in tough market

Date: 09 December 2008   |   Author: Julian Rendell

Mazda Europe sales boss Phil Waring has set a target for Mazda UK to maintain its market share next year with strong user-chooser sales, while dealers concentrate on cashflow rather than profitability.

This year Mazda is forecast to sell around 47,000 cars for a market share of around 2.4% - based on a 1.9m market.

Waring wants Mazda's UK management team to maintain that market share in a market expected to shrink to between 1.7 and 1.8m units.

"We have built-up good momentum since 2001 and we think we can maintain that despite tough market conditions," Waring told BusinessCar at last week's Bologna motor show where the new Mazda 3 hatch was unveiled.

The new Mazda 3, plus the 6 and 2 will have to perform well, since the sportscar market, where the MX-5 features is down heavily this year.

Next year Mazda will continue with its strategy of retail-dominated sales, said UK managing director Jeremy Thomson, with retail contributing 65% retail, fleet 35%.

User-choosers will be Thomson's target in 2009, Mazda having scored some success with these buyers in 2008.

User-chooser sales were two-and-a-half times higher in September this year compared to last year, said Thomson.

Waring's advice to Mazda's dealers comes just a week after it lost representation in Portsmouth with the collapse of Solent Motor Group.

Mazda aims to hold on to as many of its 157-strong network as possible by helping dealers find undiscovered cash on their balance sheets.

"Going through the used car stock and parts inventory can find plenty of hidden cash on their balance sheets," said Waring.

"A dealer with 10% more parts than it needs could find £500,000 or so by cutting ordering and by reducing used stocks to 60 days, and that's the difference between survival and collapse for some dealers," he added.

Mazda Europe's network development director Colin Maddocks has been charged with making sure dealers across Europe know how to release hidden cash from their balance sheets.

Thomson and his UK management team have recently finished one of the year's seven "Talk Back" sessions with dealers. "It was the best attended for years," he said.