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Discussion Starter #1
Desira have just e-mailed to say they are closing their Southgate, London branch at the end of December after 20 years. I have been a loyal customer of theirs for the whole of that period and now have to find a place to have my 2017 Giulia serviced. I would welcome views on who is good in North/North west London.
 

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If you don't mind a drive up the M1, Autolusso in Dunstable would be your best bet. They bought a Giulia 2.0 TB when they first came out to use as a development car and still run it now.
 

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When I went there many years ago the salesman mentioned they had some kind of proximity and even relationship with Veloces.
 

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That's a big dealership, with all the FCA brands included, isn't it?

Hope it's just that branch and not Desira's other branches, as they have a few across the East of England (Norfolk & Great Yarmouth included).

FCA UK must be doing something very wrong to be losing so many dealerships when they don't actually have very many to start with. For one reason or another all of the following have ceased to be an FCA dealer of one type or another in the past approx 12 months:

Meridien Milano Portsmouth (Alfa/Jeep) - no longer FCA
HWM Walton on Thames (Alfa/Jeep) - now FCA aftersales only
Donalds Peterborough (Alfa) - replaced by Glyn Hopkin Cambridge
County Motor Works Chelmsford (Alfa/Jeep) - replaced by Glyn Hopkin Chelmsford
Chris Variava (Alfa/Jeep) - bought by Stoneacre, nearest Alfa franchise now Chesterfield
Piccadilly Motors Knaresborough (Alfa) - now Alfa aftersales only, Fiat/Abarth sales remaining
Blackburn Motor Park (Alfa/Fiat) - whole site closed down (along with Renault & Volvo franchises)
Platts Stoke on Trent (Fiat/Alfa/Jeep/Abarth) - whole site closed down (now a Motor Depot used car site)
Richard Cort Bury (Fiat) - company ceased trading, site closed down, along with other manufacturers
Lookers Stockport (Fiat) - site closed
Chipping Sodbury Motor Company (Fiat) - now aftersales only
Bowker Ribble Valley (Maserati) - no longer got Maserati franchise
Marshall Oxford (Maserati) - closed down, only kept Peterborough site

Not great really, is it? Especially when the vast majority of sites had Alfa Romeo sales, which I thought they were trying to increase. They're going to need to launch a stonking online buying process, or withdraw Alfa from the UK if they don't do something to reverse this decline. Save for the Glyn Hopkin branches above, I note only two completely new dealerships (Snows Southampton & Arnold Clark Aberdeen) opening in the same period.

Huge gap in Alfa coverage across Greater Manchester and Lancashire, no Alfa coverage at all in Wales, no Alfa dealer for Edinburgh. Stupid thing is all of these places have Maserati dealerships - with Alfa's move towards a more 'premium' experience, why not combine with Maserati premises?
 

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The recent rate of dealership closures is unprecedented for the brand so whatever they are doing at a national level from Slough must be disastrously wrong. The current model range should be the most attractive in years for buyers but brand awareness and the lack of dealership coverage is killing it as the dismal sales figures show. The Giulia and Stelvio should have come with a 5 year warranty and either a 3 or 5 year service plan from the outset to give buyers peace of mind. More effort should have been made to create an affordable makeover of sales areas in dealer showrooms. This could have been achieved without the need for huge investment in new the new style showrooms like the one Thames in Slough have built. All they needed to do was put new flooring in the "Alfa" areas of showrooms to delineate that it was a bespoke area, install some display cabinets for colour and trim swatches and ensure the lighting was good.

They received positive press coverage in both printed media, online reviews and tv motoring shows yet failed to leverage this properly. The shine of newness has now worn off the models and other competitors have come to market. We will be back in the cycle of a belated facelift trying to shore up flagging sales in the next 18 - 24 months but failing due to lack of promotion and market perception of the models not being the latest thing and so therefore not desirable. The curse of totally inept Alfa GB marketing strikes once again.

The Maserati situation at Marshalls does not surprise me one bit. Having had the misfortune to buy a Levante from their Peterborough site I am surprised it is not that location that is closing. It surely cannot be far behind as the staff were woeful and delivered anything but a premium experience. The cars themselves are merely ok but seriously outgunned by the germans on the technology and value for money front. To counter that requires absolutely top drawer service, something that eludes most of the Maserati network who were not also Ferrari franchise holders.
 

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Is it possible for alfawoner (or someone who perhaps knows the head honcho at Alfa GB Slough personally), to organise an interview to find out whats going on. All this 'reading between the lines' analysis as to whats going on is frustrating. You would have thought that he would be up for talking to loyal alfisti. Thoughts anyone ??
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Desira did carry all the FCA brands at Southgate and it was a big site. As far as I am aware their other sites in East Anglia are all keeping going and I was a member of their service plan but travelling to Bury St Edmunds for a routine service from North London is not the best use of my time.
I am really impressed with my Giulia and they did me a good deal when I bought it 12 months ago. I was really tempted by the Stelvio but it is just a bit too big for me now.
 

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Desira did carry all the FCA brands at Southgate and it was a big site. As far as I am aware their other sites in East Anglia are all keeping going and I was a member of their service plan but travelling to Bury St Edmunds for a routine service from North London is not the best use of my time.
I am really impressed with my Giulia and they did me a good deal when I bought it 12 months ago. I was really tempted by the Stelvio but it is just a bit too big for me now.
Desira Bury St Edmunds is my 'local' dealer. It's still going but the selection of used Alfas is very small. There is now more emphasis with Desira with the new Citroen franchise, so I suspect Alfa Romeo will continue to have a small presence there.

As far as I'm aware Glyn Hopkin Cambridge is a Fiat dealer. They may service Alfas but sales appear to be Fiat. So the dealer network in East Anglia and down to North London is thin on the ground, to say the least!
 

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Is it possible for alfawoner (or someone who perhaps knows the head honcho at Alfa GB Slough personally), to organise an interview to find out whats going on. All this 'reading between the lines' analysis as to whats going on is frustrating. You would have thought that he would be up for talking to loyal alfisti. Thoughts anyone ??
This is a good idea because something appears to be going very wrong somewhere. I've read in various publications that we can expect a reduction in car dealerships across brands because of the way people are buying now - ie with online in the mix. However I wouldn't expect it to affect Alfa that much because their network was tiny anyway. Trouble is I haven't a clue who's in charge at Slough. You'd think nobody looking at their performance, and I'd struggle to remain civil with them.

I went for a job with them a few years ago, the candidates had to do a presentation & all sorts in front of eachother. It was clear I knew far more about the company than the other candidates who didn't even like cars, but they chose another candidate, so a bit of sour grapes on my part but I think if they want my advice they can pay me for it - they've clearly got a lot of people working there who aren't much good otherwise they wouldn't be the sales disaster they are today. If it weren't for the generally good customer service (mostly from Italy) and decent vehicle reliability I'd have voted with my feet a long time ago.

Desira did carry all the FCA brands at Southgate and it was a big site. As far as I am aware their other sites in East Anglia are all keeping going and I was a member of their service plan but travelling to Bury St Edmunds for a routine service from North London is not the best use of my time.
I am really impressed with my Giulia and they did me a good deal when I bought it 12 months ago. I was really tempted by the Stelvio but it is just a bit too big for me now.
Thanks for the reply. It's a shame the site is closing. I looked on Desira's website & saw they were still recruiting for the other sites so that echo's what you believe re the other sites staying open. Maybe the money they get for Southgate will help pay for these vast expensive refurbs at the other sites that Alfa seem to want all the dealers to carry out.
 

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This is a good idea because something appears to be going very wrong somewhere. I've read in various publications that we can expect a reduction in car dealerships across brands because of the way people are buying now - ie with online in the mix. However I wouldn't expect it to affect Alfa that much because their network was tiny anyway. Trouble is I haven't a clue who's in charge at Slough. You'd think nobody looking at their performance, and I'd struggle to remain civil with them.

I went for a job with them a few years ago, the candidates had to do a presentation & all sorts in front of eachother. It was clear I knew far more about the company than the other candidates who didn't even like cars, but they chose another candidate, so a bit of sour grapes on my part but I think if they want my advice they can pay me for it - they've clearly got a lot of people working there who aren't much good otherwise they wouldn't be the sales disaster they are today. If it weren't for the generally good customer service (mostly from Italy) and decent vehicle reliability I'd have voted with my feet a long time ago.



Thanks for the reply. It's a shame the site is closing. I looked on Desira's website & saw they were still recruiting for the other sites so that echo's what you believe re the other sites staying open. Maybe the money they get for Southgate will help pay for these vast expensive refurbs at the other sites that Alfa seem to want all the dealers to carry out.
As far as Desira is concerned the sale of the Southgate branch probably makes a lot of sense. Looking at the accounts for Desira at Companies House (all information of which is in the 'public domain') net profit for trading year 2016 was circa £900k but this had diminished quite drastically to just over £300k in 2017. For a medium size plc company the resultant percentage profit on turnover is worryingly low. Any release of capital from the sale of the Southgate site should strengthen Balance Sheet liquidity, which under current circumstances makes sense. Desira have also just extended their Citroen franchise to the Bury St Edmunds branch.

Given very low sales volumes of Alfa Romeo it would not surprise me at all if this brand were dropped from the Desira portfolio.
 

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We've lost the Cheltenham, Bristol and Worcester Dealerships in this region.

Can't say I like the new corporate dealer showroom colours either.
Not sure how I forgot about Cheltenham & Worcester dealerships as Cheltenham was one of my 'local' dealers. I think all the Bristol Street FCA dealerships closed - Derby Fiat is now Stoneacre and Newcastle Fiat is now Richard Hardie. I don't think Cheltenham or Worcester have been replaced though. In addition it reminds me that Wessex Fiat Gloucester closed in the last couple of years too.

I think Bristol lost Wessex Alfa, but they've moved it to the Simonstone Fiat dealership, so they're split 50/50, with Fiat/Abarth on one side and Alfa/Jeep on the other, the latter in your favourite black colour scheme! I quite like it, it's a notable step-up in terms of feel, but it must be so bloody expensive that a lot of dealerships aren't going to be able to afford it given the paltry sales volumes you get with Alfa.

Desira Bury St Edmunds is my 'local' dealer. It's still going but the selection of used Alfas is very small. There is now more emphasis with Desira with the new Citroen franchise, so I suspect Alfa Romeo will continue to have a small presence there.

As far as I'm aware Glyn Hopkin Cambridge is a Fiat dealer. They may service Alfas but sales appear to be Fiat. So the dealer network in East Anglia and down to North London is thin on the ground, to say the least!
It'll be interesting to see what happens with the other sites. As far as i could see, two or three Desira sites are just Fiat, with Norwich and Bury St Edmunds doing Fiat, Abarth, Alfa and (in Norwich) Jeep. Norwich looks ripe for a new corporate makeover, but would Bury St Edmunds have enough space to incorporate Jeep (as usually happens when they makeover an Alfa site) with Citroen already there too?

Glyn Hopkin is showing as an Alfa Sales dealer on the Retailer Locator. However, I've not physically been to the Cambridge branch of Glyn Hopkin (been to Milton Keynes, Romford & Buckhurst Hill) so I'm happy to stand corrected, particularly as the Retailer Locator does have its moments!
 

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As far as Desira is concerned the sale of the Southgate branch probably makes a lot of sense. Looking at the accounts for Desira at Companies House (all information of which is in the 'public domain') net profit for trading year 2016 was circa £900k but this had diminished quite drastically to just over £300k in 2017. For a medium size plc company percentage profit on turnover is worryingly low. Any release of capital from the sale of the Southgate site would therefore bolster the Balance Sheet. Desira have also just extended their Citroen franchise to the Bury St Edmunds branch.

Given very low sales volumes of Alfa Romeo it would not surprise me at all if this brand were dropped from the Desira portfolio.
We posted at the same time!

Gosh, yeah that's a substantial and worrying drop in profit. If they own all their sites (I imagine they do) then that'd be the one to sell - it looks like the biggest, it's also in a far more expensive part of the country for sales of land than the other sites and has more FCA competitors in terms of other Fiat/Alfa dealers in the London area - Desira appear to have more of a hold on the East Anglia area, with a bit of Glyn Hopkin in places?

I think if Alfa were a stand alone brand, they'd be toast in the UK, but because of how FCA seem to be structuring the dealerships, they seem to expect dealers to rely on all four brands (Alfa/Jeep/Abarth/Fiat) to make a living. Not sure how that's panning out though. Not very well looking at the profit info you posted, though I suppose that *might* be linked to something other than FCA performance over the period.
 

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We posted at the same time!

Gosh, yeah that's a substantial and worrying drop in profit. If they own all their sites (I imagine they do) then that'd be the one to sell - it looks like the biggest, it's also in a far more expensive part of the country for sales of land than the other sites and has more FCA competitors in terms of other Fiat/Alfa dealers in the London area - Desira appear to have more of a hold on the East Anglia area, with a bit of Glyn Hopkin in places?

I think if Alfa were a stand alone brand, they'd be toast in the UK, but because of how FCA seem to be structuring the dealerships, they seem to expect dealers to rely on all four brands (Alfa/Jeep/Abarth/Fiat) to make a living. Not sure how that's panning out though. Not very well looking at the profit info you posted, though I suppose that *might* be linked to something other than FCA performance over the period.
Agreed, if they do own the Southgate site (which I'm sure they do) the sale makes a lot of sense!

On Glyn Hopkin in Cambridge, taking a look at their website, it seems to be focused on Fiat, but I may be wrong.

The showroom at Desira Bury is currently undergoing a 'facelift' so it'll be interesting to see how that goes. Presumably this is the new 'corporate facelift' that others have commented on. I hope they retain Alfa Romeo but the concern is the very small range of models and options available at present. For instance the Giulietta is now restricted to two models? (the 1.6 diesel and the petrol 120 with no MA option?)

Completely concur on ARUK. I've said this before and will say it again. They have the collective capability of a bunch of dead sheep!
 

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Agreed, if they do own the Southgate site (which I'm sure they do) the sale makes a lot of sense!

On Glyn Hopkin in Cambridge, taking a look at their website, it seems to be focused on Fiat, but I may be wrong.

The showroom at Desira Bury is currently undergoing a 'facelift' so it'll be interesting to see how that goes. Presumably this is the new 'corporate facelift' that others have commented on. I hope they retain Alfa Romeo but the concern is the very small range of models and options available at present. For instance the Giulietta is now restricted to two models? (the 1.6 diesel and the petrol 120 with no MA option?)

Completely concur on ARUK. I've said this before and will say it again. They have the collective capability of a bunch of dead sheep!
It takes a bit of looking, but this link https://www.glynhopkin.com/alfa-romeo/our-locations/ seems to suggest they've got new Alfa dealers in Cambridge & Chelmsford, particularly as they make a point of saying 'Aftersales only' next to the East London branch but not the others. However, looking on Google Maps and images, they just look like Fiat dealers so I don't know if they've had the Alfa corporate look added yet. Maybe it was done in a rush when Donalds Peterborough and County Motor Works Chelmsford stopped having Alfa.

That's interesting about the makeover at Bury St Edmunds. Hopefully they do keep Alfa there as they desperately need more outlets, but with Glyn Hopkin in Cambridge (nearer to Bury than when it was Donalds in Peterborough) and Motorvogue in Kings Lynn with their other dealerships both having Alfa, I do wonder if they'll feel the need for Desira to have Alfa in Bury as well. I've so far not seen any Alfa dealerships in the new corporate style unless they're co-located with Jeep in Britain, though I believe one in Northern Ireland is Alfa without Jeep. If they stick to the Alfa and Jeep co-location then I suppose what happens at Bury will depend on whether they can house Citroen plus all the four FCA brands on the site.

I can't add anything to your comment re ARUK! ;)
 

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I took my Giulietta into Desira Bury St Edmunds Alfa last weekend and the section of the showroom where Alfa was is undergoing a refit for Citroen - to me, from the standpoint of someone who used to work at a main dealer for a large Japanese brand, the fact that Desira seems to have only 7 used Alfas in stock across their group is an indication that they might be about to get rid of sales. I was advised by the aftersales department that Aftersales care would continue but that they didn't know fully what was happening in terms of Alfa sales at the site. But 7 used cars doesn't give me any hope that the brand will continue at Desira......not unless they really run their stock down massively at Christmas?
 

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I note only two completely new dealerships (Snows Southampton & Arnold Clark Aberdeen) opening in the same period.

... no Alfa dealer for Edinburgh.
Arnold Clark Aberdeen is small compensation for losing Western Alfa in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth! AC were supposed to be adding Alfa to the FCA site in Seafield, Edinburgh but it never happened.
 

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Hi all. Sadly, I'm another "Desira Southgate Orphan"! I appreciate the suggestion of Autolusso, but are there any other recommendations? I live in Barnet, so the New Southgate Desira was pretty much on my doorstep and their service performance was decent even though I bought my Giulia from their Norwich branch which tells you all you need to know about their sales prowess!!


Obviously willing to travel (as if I have an option!) and North seems more realistic than South into Central London. Desira Norwich treated me well but It's a long way from me and although not so bad once a year for a service, I need somewhere nearer for warranty and unexpected bits and pieces.


I'm within walking distance to Veloces (where I get my 159 serviced), but obviously need a main dealer at the mo.


Any advice much appreciated.
 
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