A MULTI-BILLION pound redevelopment of the entire Jaguar Land Rover dealer network is under way with the prospect of hundreds of new jobs.
With sales booming for the two British brands and a host of new models coming on stream the company is giving its showrooms an upmarket new look with most selling both Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles.
The update - in which JLR is investing a total of Â£4 billion a year with retailers themselves pumping in a further Â£1 billion - has already started in some parts of the UK and is due for completion by 2018.
It will see the existing set up of 201 dealerships - 117 Land Rover and 84 Jaguar - switching to 138 sites with 85 of those selling both brands.
The number of franchise partners, which includes major organisations such as the Stratstone, Lookers and Sytner groups as well as smaller operators, will grow to 233.
At the same time JLR wants its dealer network to increase the number of jobs available by offering apprenticeships on both the technical and retail sides of the businesses.
Jeremy Hicks, JLR's managing director for the UK, said the company wanted to recruit at least 300 technicians a year as well as creating some 150 new jobs on the commercial side.
He also wants to see changes in the way sales staff are paid moving them away from a low wage, high commission fee basis to a high wage structure with appropriate bonuses.
"This whole new retail strategy is about our network having confidence for investment in the future," said Mr Hicks.
And Sarah Nelmes, Jaguar Land Rover UK network development manager, said that by the end of 2018 each UK retailer will have invested between £2 million and £18 million taking their total spend to beyond £1 billion over the four year programme.
Certain dealers have already begun the revamp at sites in Plymouth, Hull, Stafford and at Stockport where the Guy Salmon showrooms for Jaguar and Land Rover have been combined into a new operation on a business park site close to the M60 motorway.
The new showrooms have a common corporate identity split between the two brands with an upmarket reception zone in the centre of the building and workshops at the rear.
Jaguar Land Rover is also introducing ‘drive-in' service facilities at its workshops and is giving customers the opportunity to view cars in virtual reality on tablet displays.
"If ever there was a time that the power was with the customer it's now" said Mr Hicks.
So far 14 Land Rover dealers have made the switch to becoming dual brand
operations and seven Jaguar franchises are setting up joint sites.
Sales of Jaguar and Land Rover models have soared in the past year and the company is now claiming that one of its vehicles is sold every four minutes in the UK.
Jaguar, which has recently introduced the new XE sports saloon, an all-new XF and the F-PACE SUV, has seen UK sales rise by almost 70 per cent in the first six months of this year to 16,603 while Land Rover has notched up a 10 per cent increase with the likes of the Range Rover Evoque Convertible and the Discovery Sport contributing to its sales total so far of 45,711 models.
Jaguar Land Rover now has more than 40,000 employees in Britain with its dealer network employing a further 8,000.