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Local sales play key role in Skoda's fleet success

Date: 14 July 2016   |   Author: Hugh Hunston

John French, head of Skoda UK's sales operations, has praised the role of 30 local business deployment managers employed within 128 sales outlets, for quadrupling local business fleet volumes to 6000 units over the past two years.

French said: "Thirty local business managers embedded in dealerships form part of a concerted, focused effort to increase our fleet element. True fleet rose 24% in 2015 and Skoda took 3.1% of overall industry fleet volume."

Increased penetration, particularly among SMEs has, according to Skoda brand director Duncan Movassaghi, been instrumental in raising the brand's business sales share of its total volume to 53% last year - a 15% rise in three years. That translated to 40,182 fleet sales in 2015.

French said Motability was playing an increasing role in that expansion, but warned: "A lot of premium companies are piling in aggressively to this competitive channel for the first time to take a significantly larger share of the pie.

"This has resulted in Motability dynamics changing a lot and shaking up the status quo. We have seen a move away from zero to higher advance payments as the take up of our higher-specification models increases."

Movassaghi said Skoda would continue to gain ground in fleet through product renewal, good residual value management and careful channel selection, resulting in "stronger growth with true fleet at the centre. We are achieving a good balance and are in a healthy place with the [Cap] black and gold book guides."

Central to Skoda's fleet strategy is the burgeoning SUV sector with French claiming that the new Kodiaq rival for Hyundai's Santa Fe and the Ford Kuga will represent the company's most significant fleet launch ever early next year.

A new Yeti is due one year later while both Movassaghi and French agreed that a supermini SUV is on their wish list as a counterpart to Seat's upcoming contender in the growing smaller crossover sector. French said the Kodiaq promised to be a "brilliant user-chooser prospect and an extremely significant step forward in our corporate market strategy".

Current and anticipated fleet plus retail success is ironically restricting choice among Skoda's own company car drivers. The Superb, with overall sales up 71% year to date and attracting a 75% fleet element, is subject to internal allocation cuts.

French, predicting that the Kodiaq will be supply-constrained, said: "As with the Superb, a lot of Skoda staff will be disappointed in not getting it as a company car, but customers come first."