SEAT dealers set for overhaul after poor Driver Power result

Auto Express readers criticised SEAT's dealer network in our huge ownership survey - and the brand is taking it seriously

SEAT is set to massively shake up its dealer network following scathing criticism from owners in Auto Express’s Driver Power survey.

Director of SEAT UK Neil Williamson told Auto Express: “We need to make sure our dealers are as good as our cars. It’s a big job for us to do.”

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All of the brand’s dealers will be given a major cosmetic overhaul, highlighting SEAT’s new corporate identity to coincide with the launch of the company’s new SUV in 2016. One – in Tunbridge Wells in Kent – has already received the makeover.

And a handful of dealers will be added to the network to take the total number from around 125 at the moment to roughly 135.

The brand’s franchises came a rock-bottom 32nd out of 32 in our owner survey this year – and were voted worst in the UK for workmanship, technical knowledge, and cleanliness and atmosphere.

Driver Power 2014

And with SEAT sales booming (retail sales are up 27 per cent year to date in the UK) and its product range stronger than ever – the Leon picked up three awards in the Auto Express New Car Awards this year – it was felt it was time to act.

 “It’s never good news to get a bad survey result, but this [Driver Power] was actually quite good timing. Our cars have improved quicker than our dealers and we need to correct that,” continued Williamson.

“We spoke to them at a director forum in the summer and showed them the  survey result. We need to address it and have started to. We will rebrand all our dealers in the next two years. They are 14 years out of date.”

Williamson said the poor results were down to SEAT’s struggles around the end of the last decade.

He explained: “It is a legacy of where we have been. Prior to the last couple of years our dealers were at best break-even. They have done really well to survive.

“They’ve not had a clear long-term strategy, but now they are much more profitable.”

Meanwhile, the Leon’s success means it is soon expected to take over from the Ibiza as the brand’s best seller in Britain.

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