Ford dealerships in Europe facing closure as business moves online

16 March 2020

16 March 2020

Ford is to restructure its European dealership map, closing sites and focusing efforts on building online sales.

The carmaker has refused to say how many sites it will shut, or which countries will suffer the most. However, Ford was recently reported to be considering the closure of 180 sites in the UK, almost half of its footprint in the country. The UK market is Ford's largest in Europe and is therefore likely to carry the brunt of these closures.

Ford's European business underwent a large restructuring during 2019, as the company looked to shore up the business in the region. This involved the sale of plants and the loss of around 12,000 jobs. However, to ensure it can meet demand in the growing online sales market, the carmaker must find a budget to develop the platform. At the same time, Ford needs to trim its existing network to counter the fall in footfall of physical locations.

′Prior to the internet, customers made around seven visits to dealers before a purchasing decision,' John Gardiner, Executive director of comunications and PA, for Ford of Britain and Ireland, told Autovista Group's Tom Geggus when discussing the growth in automotive sales online. ′This had fallen to four visits by 2016, and today customers make 1.2 dealer visits before making a purchasing decision.

′The expectation is this figure will fall even further, possibly to even less than one visit to a dealer by 2025, given the expected growth in online sales'.