Poor sales mean parent company wants tighter rein on US firm's Brit operation
8 May 2007

After struggling to establish Cadillac in the UK for the second time in a decade, General Motors is poised to take over distribution in the UK this week.Saab boss Jon Nash is expected to add Cadillac, Corvette and Hummer to his responsibilities, the key target being to boost Cadillac’s dismal sales, particularly to fleets and company car drivers.“There will be a statement in the next few days, but the details we can’t confirm yet,” said a spokesperson.Despite new models like the Saab-built BLS and the 5-series-sized CTS saloon, engineered specifically for right-hand drive, Cadillac has sold only 600 hundred cars in the UK since a high profile re-launch in 2004.In a complex distribution deal with its roots in an abortive Cadillac launch in the mid-90s, GM decided to hand European distribution to an independent Dutch company called Kroymans, by-passing Vauxhall and Saab.Kroymans than appointed UK dealer group Pendragon as the UK distributor, with plans - as recently as spring last 2006 - for a 19-strong dealer network under the luxury-car Stratstone banner. However, promises for two dealers in Scotland and three in the midlands, for example, have failed to materialise and two of the dozen dealers — Cheltenham and Swansea — have closed, reducing the network to 10.Unsold stocks of the BLS and CTS are said to be building up, with a number of 200 to 300 said to be languishing in depots around the country – that’s about half of Caddy’s total sales in the UK since 2004.Talks between GM, Kroymans and Pedragon are trying to sort out future responsibilities. One of which is to agree sales targets, which Kroymans couldn’t persuade Pendragon to agree to when it signed it as sole British dealer group up in 2004. The other is to find a solution to expanding the dealer network. Sales efforts in the UK have been slowing since late 2006, when Cadillac and Corvette's UK office was reduced to a skeleton staff, key executives having left the company.At the most recent launch, announcing Hummer’s official sale in the UK, Vauxhall managing director Bill Parfitt took the lead as figurehead, fielding press questions and prompting surprise among Cadillac and Corvette (UK) executives.

Julian Rendell

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