Cadillac Chief Tells Dealers No Cuts in Their Ranks

At a closed-door meeting, Johan de Nysschen outlines plans to bolster GM’s luxury brand.

Steve Finlay, Senior Editor

January 24, 2015

3 Min Read
Cadillac dealer Ghent says GM39s luxury brand needs to broaden lineup
Cadillac dealer Ghent says GM's luxury brand needs to broaden lineup.

SAN FRANCISCO – The head of General Motors’ Cadillac luxury division tells dealers at a private meeting that he wants them to build enhanced facility but doesn’t plan to cut their ranks.

“A strong, financially healthy dealer organization is an essential element of Cadillac’s expansion plans,” Johan de Nysschen says in a prepared statement prior to the brand’s annual closed-door franchise meeting at the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention here.

“The stronger our dealers are, the better our service quality will be,” says de Nysschen who has held executive positions at Audi and Infiniti before joining Cadillac. It has suffered from soft sales of late compared with luxury juggernauts BMW and Mercedes-Benz

“Cadillac is on a journey back to the pinnacle of premium brands, and dealers will contribute every step of the way,” he says.

Cadillac’s current U.S. network consists of more than 900 stores. GM says that gives the brand a geographical coverage advantage over import-brand competitors. But that number of Cadillac dealers also means Cadillac dealers have lower throughput, or average sales per store, than some of its competitors.

Following the franchise meeting here, WardsAuto spoke with attendee Bob Ghent of Ghent Motors, selling Cadillac and Chevrolet in Greeley, CO.

He’s been a dealer for 26 years.

WardsAuto: Cadillac seems to be in a position of having greatly improved product, yet it is not hitting its sales numbers.

Ghent: We’ve definitely got fantastic product, but it’s just that some things haven’t quite fit together in the plan. Johan is here to fix that. The dealers look up to him to do that. He’s done that with other brands. There’s no reason he can’t do it with Cadillac.

WardsAuto: What tone did he strike at the meeting?

Ghent: Optimistic. He’s going to require more, and hold dealers more accountable. That’s understandable. You’ve got to do that with the brand.

WardsAuto: What were some of the things he said at the session?

Ghent: He did correct some misunderstanding in regards to the dealer body, in that he is not intending to eliminate any dealers.

Cadillac will push towards separating itself from, like, a Chevrolet store. He’s definitely saying what they require and ask us to do will be size-appropriate for our markets. You can’t argue with that.

WardsAuto: Are you talking about facilities?

Ghent: Yes. He’s talking about boutique facilities, but I don’t quite understand the concept. And then flagship facilities, according to the market. It sounds like that’s a good foot forward and a good plan.

WardsAuto: What was the mood of the dealers in the meeting?

Ghent: Good. I think the dealers were happy with his comments. But certainly some things need to be fixed in the product line.

WardsAuto: Such as?

Ghent: Well, we’re just missing some segments. We’re not competing in some of the SUV segments we need to be in, like smaller SUV. And we’re not competing in some of the smaller (luxury) car segments that are growing very fast.

We’ve got some product lapses in the portfolio that he certainly is going to address, which is great. That’s what we need.

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