MINI : Dealers added at prime sites in the USA

MINI is expanding mostly into new markets

MINI USA has just appointed 17 new Dealers

Diana T. Kurylko, Automotive News Europe, 24th June, 2009

With so many dealerships closing, Mini USA says it has become a lot easier to find prime sites for new stores. Many of the hand-raisers who were recently awarded one of 17 new Mini franchises were able to become dealers because an ideal location had opened up, said Jim McDowell, Mini USA president.

“A lot of people want to be a Mini dealer, and the challenge has been finding the best location,” he said. “We are now getting really good locations, better than a year ago, which is why we are accepting these new dealers.”

McDowell said the “poster child” for benefiting from another dealer’s troubles is the store being constructed in Seattle. It’s in a downtown location that previously housed a Chevrolet dealership “in the heart of Seattle and close to a university.”

That was good for Mini because the brand usually appeals to younger buyers, McDowell said.

This week Mini announced it is expanding its U.S. dealership count by nearly 20 percent within 18 months. Most of the 17 new stores will be in new markets. Mini currently has 83 dealerships.

McDowell said Mini will need the new stores when sales bounce back. Mini, which last year sold 54,077 vehicles in the United States, next year will add a small crossover based on the Crossman concept car.

There also is speculation that a roadster concept will debut in September at the Frankfurt auto show.

Mini sales were down 21 percent in the first five months compared with a year earlier. McDowell won’t forecast 2009 sales but noted that every month in 2009 has been better than the month before.

All but one of the brand’s current and new dealers are already a Mini or BMW dealer. When the brand identifies a market where it wants a presence, McDowell said, the nearest BMW or Mini dealer is asked to submit an application.

McDowell said more than half of the current dealerships are undergoing a renovation or moving to a new location.

“Many times they are moving to new buildings that were previously other franchises,” he said.

For instance, Flow Mini in Winston-Salem, N.C., recently bought and revamped a Saturn store. The Saturn dealership had to undergo extensive modification to comply with Mini standards.

The following cities will get new dealerships: Birmingham, Ala.; Pensacola, Fla.; Alexandria, Va.; Austin, Texas; Seattle; Fort Myers, Fla.; El Paso, Texas; Ontario, Calif.; Louisville, Ky.; Raleigh, N.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Loveland, Colo.; Madison, Wis.; Mount Laurel, N.J.; Allentown, Pa.; San Diego; and Tempe, Ariz.

[Source: Automotive News Europe/Reuters]

Posted in: AROnline News, MINI
Clive Goldthorp

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Clive claims that his interest in the BMC>MG story dates back to his childhood in the 1960s when the family’s garage premises were leased to a tenant with an Austin agency. However, back in the 1920s and 1930s, his grandmother was one of the country’s first female Garage Proprietors so cars probably run in his genes! Admits to affairs with Alfa Romeos, but has more recently owned an 06/06 MG TF 135 and then a 15/64 MG3 Style… Clive, who was AROnline’s News Editor for nearly four years, stood down from that role in order to devote more time to various Motor Racing projects but still contributes articles on as regular basis as his other commitments permit.

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