A major step in the fight to make Alfa a credible prestige brand again took place this month, as the Italian brand officially unveiled its new showroom look.

The clean style of the newly-Alfa HR Owen dealership in Parsons Green, south-west London, is the template all Alfa showrooms must adhere to.

UK managing director Christopher Nicoll told BusinessCar: “Every dealer that remains after 18 months will look like this, so there will be some entries and some exits. The process has already started.

“A high number will look like this by the end of this year and we’ll make a [financial] contribution. There will be a level of support.”

Nicoll has stated for some time that Alfa will not chase sales until the correct infrastructure is in place and says his parent company is in no rush. “We have a five-year plan including steady growth for the next two years which will be boosted by the 149 [due 2008/09] – and will have the same effect as when the 147 was launched.

“It will be unique and beautiful. Reliability will not so much be the key to its success as RVs. We want to make it demand-driven rather than wholesale-pushed so that better RVs will follow. We will have the appropriate chats [with RV experts] earlier this time too.”

In answer to the criticism from some quarters that the white floors, grey walls, large Alfa heritage posters and red designer furniture was still a little austere (the Parsons Green showroom used to belong to BMW), Nicoll responded, only half jokingly, that a few more red cars would help. “It’s about contrast. If two in every four cars are red you get a nice showroom.

“Ultimately, though, it’s not about the showroom – it’s about the people in it and how they make the customer feel.”

If the HR Owen site is any guide, user-choosers pondering Alfas may soon be able to look forward to some better service in a nice space.