Lotus’s Bahrain dealership is first to receive new company branding
Hethel moves to raise the profile of its retail operations and centralise aftersales and parts supply
Lotus has terminated contracts with several franchised dealerships in the UK as part of a “restructuring” of its retail network to coincide with the launch of the Emira.
The move has sparked concerns that the availability of parts for second-hand Lotus models – already a concern for owners – could be restricted.
According to a forum post from Maidstone Sports Cars, itself affected, the list of businesses that will no longer be official Lotus retailers includes Hangar 111 in Woodbridge, Rapid Mechanical Services in Romford, SJ Sports Cars in Crediton and at least four more outfits.
The move comes as Lotus seeks to centralise its aftersales offering – an initiative that forms part of a significant modernisation push for the Norfolk brand under Geely ownership.
Lotus is undergoing a period of significant upheaval, with Phil Popham recently replaced as its CEO after less than three years by ex-engineering boss Matt Windle, its Hethel headquarters being subject to a multi-million pound upgrade programme and the launch of its first electric car on the horizon.
As part of the restructuring of Lotus’s network, some of its smaller dealers will no longer be official partners of the brand.
A Lotus representative told Autocar that agreements were achieved mutually with many retailers who weren’t in a position to make the necessary investment in their businesses going forward or were not situated in a target location for Lotus.
The necessary investment for rebranding their forecourts in line with Lotus’s new corporate image is among one of the likely inhibiting factors for many smaller firms. Lotus recently showed off its refitted Bahrain dealership, its first global premises to display the new logo and badging.
Lotus is seeking to raise the profile of its retail operation, partnering with national dealer groups including Hendy and FG Barnes to sell its sports cars alongside more mainstream products in more central and highly visible locations.
Lotus’s website does still list multiple standalone retailers, however, including Lotus Silverstone, Bell & Colvill in Surrey and Endeavour Automotive in Colchester, and many of the businesses that will no longer serve as retailers will retain their ‘authorised repairer’ status.
The Lotus representative told Autocar the move shouldn’t diminish the ability of UK-based Lotus owners to have their cars repaired or maintained.
An official statement from Lotus obtained by Autocar explained: “The provision of replacement parts is a hugely significant element of our business, and with the run-out this year of Elise, Exige and Evora, it has never been more important.
“To underpin this, we have strengthened our business with a series of new initiatives. We have recently recruited dedicated teams in our Aftersales business, whose role is to ensure continuity of parts supply for each of these individual models. In tandem, we have enhanced our service technical training on the Elise, Exige and Evora, and this will continue to be available indefinitely.
“In the past two years, we have increased our central stockholding of parts by more than 40% and, most significantly, we will shortly launch an all-new e-commerce platform which will put our entire parts catalogue online, fully searchable by any customer.
“We are currently restructuring our retail network and approach in the UK. This change will not diminish the ability of Lotus owners to service and maintain their cars through the Lotus network in any way.”
Lotus has yet to reveal its dedicated online parts hub, but details are expected in the coming weeks.
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