New dealership is a GBP3m vote of confidence in Fiat-Chrysler brands
A team of Italian craftsmen will spend up to 10 days this summer installing an intricate floor in a unique car showroom.
They will be working at TH White's new GBP3m dealership in Swindon, Wiltshire, the first showroom in the UK to house all six Fiat-Chrysler brands under one roof.
Each of the six - Fiat, Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Jeep and Fiat Professional, the van division - will have separate floor space so they are visually identifiable despite being in the same building.
The craftsmen are being flown in to work on the Abarth section.
The new showroom is due to open in early August and marks the return of Fiat to Swindon after a five-year absence.
Some 18 staff will transfer from T H White's existing Fiat outlet in Cirencester. The Chrysler Jeep franchise moves from Sytner in Swindon as part of a reorganisation of Chrysler Jeep following its acquisition by Fiat.
"It's getting more and more exciting the closer we get to the opening," said Nick Down, TH White's divisional director.
"We see massive potential, not just bringing Fiat back to Swindon but also with the commercial vehicles.
"It's also a great time to be with Alfa Romeo which has some great new product coming including the 4C and Spider.
"Jeep globally is very successful and as Chrysler Jeep beds into the Fiat family and becomes more European, it will have greater success."
TH White's core business is agricultural engineering in which it has been active since the company was founded in Devizes in 1832. Today it has an annual turnover of GBP100m and employs some 500 people and has been a Land Rover dealer for 30 years.
"Land Rover and Jeep complement each other rather than compete," said Down. He said that adding the new franchises meant the company would be able to offer customers cars from used Fiats to GBP50,000 Jeeps and GBP100,000 Range Rovers.
"Customers might not want to spend GBP100,000 on a Range Rover but will spend half that on a Jeep.
"I think TH White can add value to the Fiat brand," said Down. "New premises always bring new business and we can put these new brands firmly on the shopping map."
To help reduce costs TH White used its in-house expertise to project manage the development on a 2.7-acre site and believes the new showroom, offices and workshops will be as environmentally-friendly as possible. The company has installed its own solar panels and water recycling system while the heating is run on waste oil, for example.
Dealer principal for the new dealership is Peter James, who joined TH White in April. The venture is something of a homecoming for him because he worked at Skurrays, the Vauxhall franchises in the town in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
"Having six brands under one roof will be a challenge. It means I will have to talk to a lot of different Fiat Group people," said James.