In a bold turn, MINI USA’s new Chief Motorer Michael Peyton is open to lifting the requirement that MINI Stores be associated with BMW Dealers. That rule, in place since the brand’s 2002 launch, has kept MINI tied both figuratively and literally to BMW. Now that rule may be going away. In an Automotive News interview Peyton explained:
When looking to expand, or replace an underperforming dealership, Peyton said he will seek the “best operator” in the market. “For markets where Mini needs to perform better, I’ve got to make sure I’m looking at who the right operator is, regardless of what franchise they have. We need to make sure that we look at where the customers are, where the opportunities are in the market and to make sure that the network is properly structured. I’m focused on the throughput of the stores.”
According to Peyton a handful of non-BMW dealers have expressed interest in MINI.
More than half of current MINI dealers losing money in 2019, according to Peyton. In a cost cutting move, BMWNA agreed last year to allow MINI dealers to move into BMW stores and downsize locations. According to Peyton, around 25% of dealers have expressed interesting in moving that direction. About half have begun to do so.
Given the realities of the industry and MINI sales in the US this move, while bold, seems inevitable. While the association with a premium/luxury brand like BMW typically reflects well on MINI, it’s holding the brand back from being more nimble in a market that is constantly evolving.