The Blue Oval's new showroom is the Next big idea.
You might take exception when a carmaker tries to turn itself into a lifestyle company by selling branded tat in the form of t-shirts and hats, but Ford is all set to take the idea to a whole new level – instead of turning its dealerships into clothes shops, it has signed a deal to turn clothes shops into car dealerships.
The manufacturer has teamed up with UK retailer Next to increase the presence of its brand, staring with a presence at the company's store at the Arndale Centre in Manchester in July. A rotating display of Ford's current model lineup, as well as 15 product specialists, will be based at the store, with customers able to book test drives or even collect new cars from the store.
What's more, Ford is also trialling an online sales system, which will be able to deliver cars to the Arndale store, or to any home address in the country.
'We have the most extensive dealership network, which has already received significant investment in new FordStores, Transit Centres and Mobile Service Vans to offer customers specialist retail, van and service assistance,' said Andy Barratt, Ford GB chairman and managing director. 'These will remain to serve the many consumers wanting to visit a dealer. There is also a growing appetite to browse for cars in other retail environments and online which we are meeting with these new 2018 venture.'
All cars bought online will be supported by the regular deals one would expect to find in regular showrooms, such as Ford Options, the company’s personal contract purchase (PCP) scheme, and Ford’s usual warranty and roadside assistance terms.