Daewoo Motor says its pending takeover by General Motors has begun to help it attract dealers in the UK.
Daewoo's UK branch expects to have 14 dealers by January and 58 by next December.
When it launched in 1995, Daewoo Cars established direct sales outlets throughout the UK. Daewoo turned to the Halfords fast-fit and accessory store group to act as additional service points.
After deciding in March to convert to a conventional dealer network, Daewoo had trouble attracting new UK dealers while the Korean parent company was mired in bankruptcy.
But since GM agreed in September to buy a two-thirds share of Daewoo automotive assets in Korea, Daewoo Cars Managing Director S. K. Kim said UK dealer interest levels are very high.
GM CEO Rick Wagoner says that GM and at least five of its affiliates will close a final deal for most automotive assets of Daewoo by the first or second quarter of 2002.
Daewoo has hired UK dealer recruitment veteran Jerry Dennis, formerly with Volkswagen group in Britain.
Dennis has been asked to build a UK retail network which is eventually expected to peak at 118 dealers.
Daewoo's UK sales have slumped 44 percent this year. But Kim said the sales falloff was partly due to restructuring within the company.
'We are now out of the fleet business so we are selling fewer cars, but the company is in better shape,' he said.
The situation is a complete reversal of Daewoo's original radical approach to distribution and sales.
Daewoo used the UK as a pilot scheme for dealing direct with customers in an effort to establish and build the brand when it launched in 1995. Now Kim said the brand is better known and the product more technically advanced. He said it is time to establish a conventional network.
'We want to make sure we get the right quality,' he said. 'We have been talking to the big [publicly owned dealer groups] but because of their structure it can take longer to make decisions.'
Daewoo Cars plans to support its dealer drive by launching a E5 million television advertising campaign in the UK starting in January 2002.
These will be Daewoo's first UK television commercials in almost a year. They will focus on the Matiz mini and Tacuma compact minivan.