PSA's DS Automobiles has set up a dedicated retail network in the UK – separate from Citroen – that starts operations on 1 July and will be expanded further in 2018 and 2019.
DS Stores and DS Salons are in "prominent locations" to "offer customers a bespoke service with a DS Expert Advisor / DS Service Advisor on hand to assist with their automotive requirements and preferences", the automaker said.
The complete model range (3, 3 Cabrio, 4, 4 Crossback, 5 and 7 Crossback) will now be available for order only through the new DS dedicated outlets and not Citroen dealers.
"This moment also signifies the separation for Citroen outlets who can no longer trade with customers on new DS products under their Citroen franchise contracts. There are however a selection of Citroen investors that have been granted DS franchise contracts, allowing them to be able to continue distributing DS models, through a DS Store or DS Salon outlet," the automaker said.
The company has promised its new dealer network and customers a distinctive range of models, led by the 7 Crossback SUV which is the first model of the second-generation of DS models, which will be joined by a new model every year to form a six-model range, all of which will include electrified versions.
DS Store and DS Salon design of which has been inspired by French boutique hotels "to create a high end, bespoke, engaging experience", it added.
A factory backed used car programme – DS Certified – will also be on offer
The network will have 25 stores and salons accross the UK for 1 July, and is due to double outlets by year's end, expanding further in 2019.
Also from 1 July, the Citroen and DS brands and their franchised outlets will operate separately for the sales of their respective brand's new vehicles, distribution, servicing and in other respects to their franchise agreements.
For existing DS customers who purchased their car from a dual (Citroen/DS) franchise outlet, that relationship continues initially through the solely Citroen franchise for ongoing services in the short term, to permit servicing, warranty and maintenance. But DS owners will be "encouraged to engage with the new, solely DS franchise".
Currently there are now 400 stores and salons across Europe with more due to open by 2019.
A DS Store is at least 250m² and is a luxury boutique dedicated to the automotive industry with a unique atmosphere (colour scheme, furniture specially designed for DS, lighting effects, rooms scented with a DS essence fragrance, mood music and Nespresso coffee to welcome customers). A store has room for at least five showroom vehicles and with virtual vision, customers can effectively be shown the entire product range, in every model, every trim choice and in all available colours. Car parking, a waiting room, a boutique selling accessories and merchandise, and a special after-sales reception is also provided.
DS Salon is at least 125m² and is shared alongside a Citroen showroom, on the inside (with DS designed flooring, ceiling, walls with DS logo displayed, sales desk and customer reception, and overall a lifestyle boutique approach) and identified on the outside with a DS branded totem. At least three new cars are on display with a range of demonstrators available for assessment.
All outlets have a Paris-trained 'expert advisor' and sales manager familair with all aspects of selling premium products and services supplemented by a service advisor.
A new service, DS Only You, is available from the new dedicated outlets and covers new car and servicing home delivery, roadside assistance, car rental and a smartphone app for car-related services.