Sandown Motors managing director Gavin McAllister has been appointed head of Mercedes-Benz franchise board.
The change comes just over three months after the German premium brand rolled out its new direct-to-consumer agency model car retail distribution strategy – in a move that some retailers feel has already detrimentally impacted sales – McAllister will assume the post with immediate effect.
Mercedes-Benz UK chief executive and managing director Gary Savage said: “Sandown Group is a strong performer in our network and Gavin is very well respected by members of the franchise board, the wider Mercedes-Benz network and the team at Milton Keynes.
“I am looking forward to working even closer with Gavin and the franchise board given the opportunities and challenges we face in the market today: the collaboration with our agents and partners remains as important as ever.”
Sandown is Mercedes-Benz’s current Retailer of the Year award winner and operates nine car franchises with the brand.
In 2021 it added to its Mercedes portfolio with the addition of Sytner’s former site in Newbury and the Mercedes-Benz Retail Group business in Epsom.
McAllister replaces former Drayton Motors director and Lookers Mercedes-Benz franchise director David Williams, who has been a member of the franchise board for over 20 years, after he decided to retire.
Mercedes said that David had played a key role in the creation of the Mercedes-Benz market areas at the start of the new millennium and more recently has led the franchise board through the brand’s transition to an agency model.
Paying tribute to Williams’ tenure, Savage said he had always “robustly challenged and supported our business initiatives”, contributing to sales growth that peaked in 2017 at 180,970 vehicles.
He added: “More recently, the franchise board, led by David, played an integral role as we formulated our plans to move from a distribution contract to an agency contract.
“I am in no doubt that without David’s insight, guidance and energy we would not have successfully rolled out agency within our planned timescales.”
In a special news insight report into the roll-out of agency model agreements across the UK car retail sector AM reported that the first month of Mercedes’ new retail model had seen partners report order take down by 40%, sparking concerns that the OEMs’ transition to a more luxury-oriented future – promising greater margins – might not come soon enough to mitigate the impact of falling sales.
In a move that appeared to fly in the face of the fixed price ethos of agency model retail, consumers also “kicked up a stink” when Mercedes-Benz UK discounted its A-Class hatchback by £3,000 on a single weekend in January to boost volumes, AM was told.