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DS brand helps Citroen 'open doors' to fleets

Date: 11 July 2013   |   Author: Rachel Burgess

The introduction of Citroen's DS line-up has grown the brand's presence on company car choice lists, according to UK boss Linda Jackson.

She said the launch of the DS3, DS4 and DS5 over the past two years had "opened doors" to previously unreachable fleets.

The DS range now accounts for 25% of total business sales, with the three- door DS3 doing particularly well: "It is popular with the NHS and driving schools, for example," Jackson said.

The manufacturer has also been targeting user choosers with the DS5: "We've been seeding them to receive interest, by running test drive programmes, leaving vehicles with certain companies and holding events where we've invited user choosers."

Meanwhile, Citroen continues to focus on small businesses, with fleets of 20 vehicles or fewer making up two-thirds of fleet sales and going through its 83 business dealers.

It is also aiming to improve customer service for firms, with an aftersales pilot launched in January this year, which provides a dedicated bay for work on fleet cars, intended to reduce time off the road.

Called Citroen Racing, which draws inspiration from world rally champion Sebastien Loeb's car coming into the pits, it has been trialled at four dealers including Birmingham, and Jackson said there are plans to roll it out to 40 sites by the end of 2013.

The firm is also considering different opening hours to satisfy fleet clients.

Citroen is keen to continue to improve residual values, historically weak, and maintains its recent strategy of low-level rental volume.

"We have 4500 vehicles in the rental channel, making up 5% of total volume. We use that principally when we launch a new vehicle to help build awareness," said Jackson.

It is also allowing influencers such as Cap or Kwik Carcost to see new models much earlier, which "helps explain what the product is all about".

Jackson admitted it has been an uphill struggle to change perception of the brand: "If you go back 10 years, we were known for cashback and promotional deals.

"Now, we're starting to introduce finance offers on the retail side, but on television advertising you will not see any promotional offers. It's about building the brand using the DS models."

She continued: "We've also changed Citroen's corporate identity for this reason, and we will have completely replaced all dealership identity by the end of the year.

"We've also spent a lot of time improving customer satisfaction."

Citroen has registered 20,981 fleet cars so far this year, a 35.6% increase on the same period last year, with Jackson confident that the brand will finish 2013 with notably higher sales than the 32,292 volume of 2013.

LCV sales have also risen by 21.2% year- to-date, from 7922 units to 9602.