A year after Infiniti Canada said it would allow dealers to merge standalone Infiniti locations with Nissan stores, several retailers who sell vehicles from both the automaker’s luxury and mainstream brands have already begun the co-location process.
Steve Rhind, managing director of Infiniti Canada, said the company is working with dealerships, on making the transition.
“We have had several dealers that are taking us up on that, and they're in various stages of construction,” he said at a leadership roundtable at Nissan Canada Inc.’s (NCI) headquarters in Mississauga, Ont. July 15.
In 2020, approximately 40 per cent of Infiniti stores were connected to Nissan locations, the company said. By 2025, it expects that number to climb to 70 per cent. Infiniti currently has 38 dealerships in Canada, meaning roughly 11 standalone stores are likely to merge with Nissan locations over the next three years.
Rhind cited the example of St-Bruno Infiniti, just outside of Montreal. The new Infiniti showroom is an addition to the Nissan dealership already at the site, he said.
“It's a very separate showroom, quite a unique experience for the customer on the Nissan side to make sure it preserves the Infiniti-ness.”
The rooftop consolidation plan was disclosed last year amid flagging sales. Infiniti sold 5,838 vehicles in 2021, a 47 per cent decline from the 10,974 sold in pre-pandemic 2019 and less than half its high-water mark of 12,581 vehicles sold in 2018. Giving dealers the option to merge their Infiniti and Nissan stores was a significant reversal for the company, which had spent years encouraging dealers to establish separate footprints to differentiate the two brands.
Peyman Kargar, global chairman of Infiniti, said co-locating stores is part of a wider plan to promote financial synergies across Nissan and Infiniti. Keeping customer-facing aspects of the brands separate remains a priority, however.
“We will not compromise anything on the specificities of the brand. That’s clear in showrooms, in product, in design, in technology, et cetera,” he said. But where the two brands can share resources, such as in that back office or service departments, it will help cut costs, Kargar added.
The company recently adjusted its corporate reporting structure to accomplish similar reductions. On April 1, Infiniti Canada was officially tucked under the NCI banner. The adjustment will let the automaker’s two Canadian brands share resources more effectively and take a regional approach to sales, NCI President Steve Milette said.
Approximately 85 per cent of Infiniti Canada dealers also own Nissan stores.