DS has its UK flagship dealership in Chiswick, West London, and another major site in Leicester. Its key future target locations include Leeds, Liverpool and Aberdeen.
“Customers react superbly to the dedicated experience of walking into an independent showroom with our boutique feel,” said Tilstone. “They’re not big gin palaces; that’s not what we’re about. But how they encapsulate the brand resonates with our customers, and we need to bring that to every physical point of sale we have.”
As part of its intention to offer an experience similar to other luxury products, DS has introduced a concierge role at its dealerships. These employees will become a customer’s sole point of contact throughout the car buying and ownership process.
“People want that comfort, security and relationship, so a DS concierge has real value,” explained Tilstone.
No race for market share
Tilstone said that the intention has always been to gradually build public awareness of DS and to “launch the brand using the product”, adding: “Without the product to show what we mean by Parisian luxury and savoir faire, those words are just meaningless.”
He predicted that “as we launch more products, we will attract more customers” but said he doesn’t expect dramatic growth as a result of the 4 and 9 arriving.
“For us, it’s not about racing for market share,” he said. “If we reach another 1% market share overnight, what does it do to the [Stellantis] group share? While it’s not irrelevant, it’s not the purpose of DS within the group. We’ve got other brands that can do that.
“Without solid foundations, which can be the risk if you chase volume, you miss developing the fundamental health factors you need for long-term success.
“The way is that we’re confident in our product, we deliver the right experience in the right way and we adapt to the market. If we get that right, customers will choose us and then we will grow.”
As the market gets more electrified, Tilstone believes DS could benefit from its E-Tense hybrid and electric models.
He said: “As a new brand in this transition period, it’s an opportunity for us to bring people to try our product and that has to be our number-one ambition: get more people to try DS, drive DS, discover what the brand is and how it reflects our positioning.”
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