Targeting the man in the street

Date: Wednesday, February 25, 2015   |   Author: James Dallas

With its new Daily light commercial vehicle now on sale, Iveco is aiming to attract more business from retail customers, as James Dallas discovers from talking to the brand’s UK boss Bob Lowden

Iveco plans to restructure its dealer network in 2015 in order to gain a larger share of the retail market for its new Daily van.

Incoming UK boss Bob Lowden, who took up his position last November, says the brand’s strength has traditionally been with large corporate fleets, exemplified by its major deals with supermarket giants Tesco and Asda, but that it has failed to win business from small, local firms and owner-drivers due to the lack of a sales presence on the high street.

Lowden says his mission is now to replicate Iveco’s success with fleets and dotcom companies with similar growth in the retail sector.

“For that we need to be more visible,” he explains. “Our strategy for 2015 is to focus on growing our visibility, widening our retail dealer footprint, concentrating our dealer sales teams accordingly and making the new Daily a van of choice for the huge variety of retail customers nationwide.”

Lowden adds that Iveco’s strength in the HGV sector, which makes it the envy of passenger car-based van brands through its ability to offer out-of-hours servicing, has acted against it in attracting retail customers due to its sales and service points beingin remote locations. That means they are far more likely to visit a more conveniently located Ford or Vauxhall showroom, for example.

“We have struggled as a retail brand because we don’t have the high-street presence
– our bedrock is with truck operations,” he says. “We need to do more with the butchers, bakers and carpet layers.”

Lowden argues that Iveco needs to open more accessible dealerships because local business customers are not prepared to travel to truck outlets on industrial estates.

“The nearest dealers are too far away,” he admits, and explains that this is because, historically, the strategy had been to establish large retail areas covered by a roving sales manager.

“What is needed now is a presence on the high street,” Lowden stresses, and says the company is scouting new businesses with the aim of opening 10 to 15 exclusive Daily centres this year to add to its existing network of 63 sites covering both vans and trucks.

“Compared to our major competitors, we don’t have enough retail outlets,” he says.

“We are good at selling to fleets; we are not so good at selling the twos and threes.”

He suggests the Daily could share sites with other companies in Fiat Industrial-owned parent CNH Industrial’s portfolio, such as Case and New Holland, which run dealerships for agricultural machinery.

Perhaps surprisingly, he does not see Fiat Professional as a natural fit, despite the Italian brand sharing several Iveco sites in order to offer extended service hours to its LCV customers. He claims Fiat is good at selling smaller vans but less accomplished at retailing larger models, the market in which the 3.5-tonne Daily, the What Van? 2015 Large Van of the Year, sits.

“It’s been looked at and it’s not an easy way to get extra retail volume,” Lowden claims.

He says the brand is looking to recruit “independent, entrepreneurial” businesses rather than open factory-owned sites.

Lowden reveals the new centres may offer extended opening hours but would not provide around-the-clock servicing, admitting the cost to do so would be prohibitive. He reasons that the expectation of a customer coming from a car-based brand is not for 24-hour servicing anyway.

Nick Santon, Iveco’s product affairs manager, succinctly sums up the brand’s need to reshape its dealer network.

“We’re not hitting the small man,” he says. “We need to make our dealerships more accessible and to have more of them.”


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