NISSAN GB managing director Jim Wright takes 15 minutes out of his busy schedule to talk to Nissan Insider about his hopes for 2012 and where he thinks the opportunities lie for dealers.
The press has recently seen the Juke R unveiled at an event in Spain – what are your thoughts on it?
We’re fortunate as there are only two cars being built – one left and one right-hand drive – and we’ll get the right hand drive one to ourselves. The first tests of the car will be around January. The most important thing with Juke-R will be the communication potential it gives us. The interest in it has been huge globally, so we will be able to really say something about the brand and it will give us something to say about the potential of Juke.
Where do you think the major opportunities for dealers currently lie?
For our franchise, there are two key areas for improvement in terms of profit. The first is used cars. We are not particularly strong here and with the way our volumes have grown over the past two years we need to take advantage of the change cycle we are about to come into.
It’s not just about walking customers into new cars but taking the profit opportunity of used cars too. Secondly, we’ve got to take advantage of our aftersales potential. We are not particularly strong on this either and our level of service absorption is not up to our competitors’. Our loyalty level is letting a lot slip through the net, so we really need to drive that. But used cars are something we particularly need to capitalise on.
What are your sales hopes for 2012?
I still think we can push on in comparison to this year. We don’t have any major product events but it will be the first full year of Micra, Juke is in its second year and there is still some up-swing to be had there. When you add that together with the momentum we have, I think we can stretch our market share further.
New cars will start to arrive in 2013-14 and then we can take it on to the next level. Market share, percentage-wise we need to be doing more than five. This year we’ll finish on about 5.1 and I’d like to be doing more than that next year.
We expect TIV to be reasonably flat. If we do 5.1 on today’s forecasts that will mean 106-107,000 units. The SMMT forecast is flat for 2012 so maybe we should get closer to 109-110,000.
The other critical thing will be supply. There is a lot of competition for the supply coming out of our factory, which is already running at full capacity. We need to keep the speed of velocity of supply at a very high level. We can’t afford for cars to be sitting in our compound or dealer forecourts for long periods of time because there is competition for allocation of new cars from Russia, Germany and France. Allocation is based on how much stock you have so the less there is, the more likely we are to get supply. We must keep the machine going. It’s not just about the market but about what we can build that will be important.
Have you got a message to dealers as we go forward?
We have a lot to be optimistic about, but there is no room for complacency. In other words, we’re in a good place, but we need to make sure we stay there. If we sit back, someone will take it from us. We need to keep pushing. My job is to do that, and it’s the same with the network. Our current velocity is healthy and we simply need to maintain it. It looks as though the market will be as challenging in 2012, as it was in 2011, but if you look at our retail share and the average level of dealer profitability we’re in a good situation.