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Merging GM Brands Won't Eliminate Distinct Personalities

March 10, 2003

Even as General Motors continues its strategy of bringing Pontiac-GMC and Buick dealerships together, the head of Pontiac-GMC says the brands will maintain their distinct personalities, Associated Press (AP) reported.The idea is to increase sales and boost profits for dealers, even if it means having some overlapping products on the same car lot, Pontiac-GMC general manager Lynn Myers told The Associated Press."This is not a merging of brands," Myers, who's hopeful that a revamped Pontiac line will boost declining sales in recent years, told AP.According to AP, Myers said Buick will still have its traditional look, while Pontiac will cater to the sportier crowd with a focus on performance. GMC deals in light trucks."The basic theory is this: If you give people more distinct choices, more people will come to shop and you'll sell more cars and trucks," Myers said of the Buick-Pontiac-GMC marriages, according to AP.AP noted that GM began the so-called retail "channel strategy" in the early 1990s. It would prefer, in larger markets, to have only Cadillac, Chevrolet and Saturn -- and possibly Saab and Hummer -- in stand-alone locations. AP said that GM re-emphasised its commitment to the plan last week when it named Kurt Ritter, the former Chevrolet marketing chief, to the new position of general manager of the Pontiac-GMC and Buick divisions. Ritter will oversee the two divisions, though they'll not formally unite. According to AP, of the 2,766 Buick franchises at the end of 2002, 109 were freestanding. On the Pontiac side, 58 of its 2,807 franchises were stand-alone. Those stores that already were selling Buick, Pontiac and GMC vehicles numbered 736.
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