After 31 years of UK-only trading, the PSA Peugeot CitroÃ«n-owned Motaquip brand is expanding into Europe.
The brand has a new image as part of the expansion which involves new Motaquip-branded all-makes service and repair garages in France and Spain, the first two territories it is moving into on the continent.
This garage intiative is sure to reach UK shores if success can be achieved in France and Spain which have already begun to build their networks.
Motaquip Head of Operations Peter Cox wouldnâ€™t be drawn too much on timings for UK garages, but he did say that a range of exciting pilot programmes would be underway this year.
â€œIt represents a major investment and commitment to the brand by PSA. Itâ€™s not a move we intend to make here straight away,â€ says Cox. â€œThe market in mainland Europe and the UK is very difficult. I think theyâ€™ll get to 600 pretty quickly across the two territories.
â€œIf you can get a good, strong brand that isnâ€™t compromised, we have the potential of creating that service brand. Weâ€™re trade only, we have the collateral and brand behind us, and it will have been tried and tested on the continent first.â€
A likely timetable would put the UK launch at around 2014, with at least 500-600 garages needed for the nationwide coverage that Motaquip is probably looking to achieve.
Motaquip currently provides overnight delivery to its 185 distributors, but Cox will surely be working on improving that to a same-day basis to support such a vast network.
Cox will also need to close the 80 or so open points it has in the distribution network, with most of these in metropolitan areas, particularly London.
â€œWe are picking up a lot of new accounts and our focus at the moment is on building distribution, looking for new opportunities.
â€œThere are some areas where itâ€™s difficult to find distribution. London is the main headache, but the other main conurbations are difficult as well because you get a big dominant factor with multiple branches and everyone is fighting in there.
So far Cox has signed up 12 new outlets this year. That work continues, but now he also has the job of getting the market used to the new logo. Much of the process will be gradual â€“ no-one will have to burn posters or scrap clothing with the old logo â€“ but a lot can be done immediately, particularly online. The new look is also much more than just a new logo, says Cox.
â€œThe old logo is very 80s, it certainly wasnâ€™t modern. For some time I would have liked the opportunity of updating it, but we havenâ€™t been able to justify the cost just for the UK.
â€œThe whole brand appearance is being updated so we have new letterheads, stylings, a brand new website going live on June 15 and weâ€™ve overhauled our Ecat site. Everything will be changing.
â€œIt keeps the familiar black, yellow and green colours, but itâ€™s much more modern. To my mind people ought to start associating the three-coloured M with Motaquip.
â€œPSA have updated the Peugeot and the CitroÃ«n brand identity recently. Theyâ€™re trying to make everything look more dynamic and modern, and the new logo is also far more versatile.â€
Thereâ€™s that mention of PSA again. Some CAT readers have wondered why our magazine has carried adverts for Vauxhall Trade Club, but no-one has ever questioned whether Motaquip is truly aftermarket or not.
â€œI think a larger share of the market donâ€™t know weâ€™re PSA. When we talk to independents theyâ€™re very positive about Motaquip, that itâ€™s a good product thatâ€™s been around for a long time, and they are happy to trust it and use it. I donâ€™t think the general perception of it is that itâ€™s a VM brand.â€
â€œI think with the exception of a few people, weâ€™ve been seen as an aftermarket brand. We have always served independents, we donâ€™t supply product to trade through dealers, with one or two exceptions, but weâ€™re not giving dealers advantage offers on parts.
â€œWeâ€™ve served the independent sector for 31 years, so although we sit within a VM, we are, from time to time, in conflict with them.â€