CALGARY — Mitsubishi Canada’s 93 dealerships will have to undergo costly renovations as part of the parent company’s global strategy, even though some of those stores had complied with a similar program as recently as last November.
“This is a new-image program aligned with a global image program announced [July 4] in Canada and globally from Mitsubishi Motors Corp. It has evolved from the new image reported last year in Canada,” company spokeswoman Michelle Lee-Gracey said in an email.
At least two stores in Quebec were renovated under the previous program, and a third was built to those specifications. Lee-Gracey confirmed those stores will eventually need to be renovated again.
Quebec dealer group HGregoire, which owns two Mitsubishi stores, is one of the franchise owners affected by the changes. Its Laval store was revamped in November using the Mitsubishi dealer image in effect at that time. It also recently acquired the Mitsubishi Vaudreuil store.
Those stores will be renovated in the future to match the new look, starting with Mitsubishi Vaudreuil before the end of the year, an HGregoire spokeswoman said.
The first of what was then new-look facilities opened at Rallye Mitsubishi in Gatineau, Que., in April 2017. The program was to be implemented across the country during the next five years.
The new dealer-image program is paid for by the dealer with support from Mitsubishi Canada, Lee-Gracey said.
“We will work in partnership with the few dealerships who have recently renovated into the older format to convert them to the new dealer image,” she said.
The biggest difference between the Japanmandated world image program and the recent Canadian program is the switch from a whiteand-silver exterior to black and red with a new “entrance gate.”
Ben Maitland, president and dealer principal of Platinum Mitsubishi in Calgary, said he likes the new signage, “which should stand out among neighbouring dealerships.” There’s also a new ‘hard requirement’ for drive-through service bays, he said.
“They also want sit-down service adviser stations. I’ve been through that before, and for whatever reason, the advisers prefer to stand.” Another interior change is relocation “of the reception desk to the rear of the showroom, which wouldn’t work here because our sales offices are located behind reception. It would require major construction work.”
Other than that, there’s a minor change in flooring colour and “the usual changes in furniture.”
Despite having to renovate his stores, HGregoire President John Hairabedian said he supports the change.
“We believe it’s in line with our vision of a redefined experience,” he said in a statement.
Maitland said he wasn’t keen about some of the changes, being “pushed by Japan,” and he was “concerned about the cost and how we’ll recover the cost.”
Maitland estimated the changes would total between $600,000 and $750,000.
“We’re not far enough into the process to see how it’s going to work,” he said, adding that dealers were shown the new program in late June at a meeting in Whistler, B.C.
Maitland said he won’t know the what final tally will be until the fall.
“Then we’ll negotiate what is absolutely necessary, and what the costs are going to be.”
The first dealership in the new-image program is slated to open in fall, 2018 in Ajax, Ont., the automaker said.