Alfa boss admits failings

* Reliability and service need to improve * Brand 'at a crossroads' * Action plan to get it right...

Alfa boss admits failings

Alfa Romeo's boss in the UK has admitted that the company's range of cars and levels of service have not been up to scratch in recent years leaving it 'at a crossroads as a brand'.

'We failed in the basics product, reliability and service,' said Andrew Humberstone, UK managing director of the Fiat Group. 'Alfa needs to return as a multi-product brand.'

JD Power satisfaction aim
Humberstone admits that much needs to be done to raise the company's rating in J D Power customer satisfaction surveys. 'I have been asking the dealer council what are the three, four or five things we could do to get an immediate improvement,' he said.

'It's not rocket science. Are the parts the customer needs in stock? Does the customer know the cost of the job? Was a call made to see if the customer is happy with the work? Was the car washed?'

Despite what Humberstone expects to be 'a difficult year ahead', things are looking up for Alfa in Britain.

Sales increased by 52% between 2008 and 2009, largely thanks to the Alfa Romeo Mito supermini. It accounted for two-thirds of Alfa's UK sales last year and is helping to lower the age profile of its customers.

Residual value concern
Humberstone says he will not get involved in selling to daily rental companies to buy market share, despite the predicted dip in the overall new-car market this year.

The Mito has reversed Alfa's traditionally poor resale values, and Humberstone intends to protect that. 'I am not prepared to jeopardise the resale values of the Mito or the new Giulietta when it comes,' he said.