OFT pushes Peugeot into dealer U-turn

The Office of Fair Trading has forced Peugeot into a climbdown, intervening in a corporate branding dispute between the manufacturer and its dealers.

The franchised dealers had complained that Peugeot was insisting on their premises being branded with Peugeot’s “Blue Box” corporate identity. The dealers claimed this would impede the evolution of the multi-brand showrooms encouraged by recent EU law.

Following the OFT’s intervention, Peugeot is having to write to all its dealers to make clear that the blue box branding is not compulsory, merely highly recommended by the French carmaker. The OFT says there was a high level of unhappiness among the dealers, which had had their complaint passed on to the OFT by the National Franchised Dealer Association.

The OFT intervention is one of the first since it gained responsibility for policing EU competition law. It comes as Peugeot is reviewing its £10m dealer ad account (MW June 17). Euro RSCG London, Poulters, Joshua and incumbent McCann Erickson have been shortlisted.

This is not the first time Peugeot has landed in hot water. Two weeks ago, the European Commission charged parent company PSA Peugeot Citroën with violating competition law, alleging the manufacturer was impeding potential purchasers of its cars in some states from sourcing vehicles from cheaper countries. PSA Peugeot Citroën, which denies breaking the rules, has two months to respond to the charges.

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