Mercedes Benz dealers turn to B-M to save jobs

A committee of Mercedes Benz dealers has appointed Burson-Marsteller in a bid to save its members' jobs.

A committee of Mercedes Benz dealers has appointed Burson-Marsteller in a bid to save its members' jobs.

Motor manufacturing giant DaimlerChrysler has indicated its intention to take control of 156 Mercedes dealerships in London, Manchester and Birmingham in a year's time. The 'dealer council' has responded to this by issuing a statement condemning the move and indicating that a legal challenge may be made.

As well as appointing law firm Allen & Overy to pursue the matter as a test case in court, the dealers have called on the Retail Motor Industry Federation to handle a media campaign.

RMI director of media Sue Robinson helped the dealers appoint B-M after a three-way pitch against Weber Shandwick Worldwide and Brunswick.

B-M's account is led by European public affairs chairman Gavin Grant.

Although fees have yet to be agreed, the agency is working on a time and materials basis and is likely to reap fees comfortably within the six-figure bracket.

The RMI represents 90 per cent of UK dealers. Although they already pay subscriptions to the body, the cost of hiring both B-M and the law firm is being met by extra contributions from Mercedes dealers.

Mercedes passenger car dealers met in Birmingham on 16 January and were unanimous in the view that a legal challenge should be lodged to the parent company's decision to axe the dealership network.

The RMI bought B-M on board in part because its four-strong in-house press office was busy with work for other bodies, such as the Petrol Retailers Association.

Opposition has greeted DaimlerChrysler's plan to increase prices for right-hand drive imports. The RMI's franchised dealer director Alan Pulham said this 'could lead to price control by the manufacturer'.





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