Proposed boutique store angers some Montreal dealers

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MONTREAL, QUE. – Controversy is brewing in Brossard as a proposed Porsche satellite store hopes to retail vehicles from a boutique location inside a popular shopping centre.

Standing in the way is a bylaw prohibiting automotive retail that, if a handful of dealers with operations on Taschereau Boulevard get their way, will not be altered as per the proposed amendment currently sitting with city council.

At issue is a 1,900-square foot Porsche satellite store called Porsche Showroom Rive-Sud to be owned and operated by the team behind Porsche Lauzon in Laval. The store's location in the sprawling Quartier DIX30 shopping centre in Brossard is not technically allowed to operate as a retail point under current municipal rules.

The Lauzon Group, which also counts Volkswagen and Audi in its fold, has requested city council amend the code to permit automotive sales under the retail guidelines.

The big, open-air shopping centre is home to more than 300 retailers and has proven to be a popular spot as it sits just five minutes from downtown Montreal. According to owners Carbonleo and Oxford Properties, DIX30 welcomes over 20 million visitors annually.

Opposing the request is a group of dealers, some of whom run dealerships on nearby Taschereau Boulevard. Le Journal de Montréal says it obtained a copy of a letter from some of the dealers to Montreal mayor Paul Leduc urging him to strike down the amendment request saying approval would cause significant damage to their business operations.

Denis Dessureault, executive V-P of the Montreal Automobile Dealers Corporation, says he understands why some of his association’s members would be upset with the move.

He notes the city is particularly stringent with automotive retail bylaws and that traditional dealerships have a myriad of regulations with which to comply.

“I think their fear is if they start doing that [change the bylaw], will they have to also rent space in the mall and be visible to compete with that crowd?” he says.

John Cappella, network development director for Porsche Cars Canada, says costs of the project are not known and that a construction timeline is subject to city zoning.

He notes this type of retail strategy is a first for the brand in North America and is a reflection of the way vehicle shopping has evolved.

“Convenience and brand experience are becoming more and more important,” he tells Canadian AutoWorld.

“For Porsche, the customer is always the focus of all of our efforts, so we naturally want to cater to the new shopping behaviour. The Porsche City Showroom concept will bring the brand into the heart of one of Canada’s premier shopping and entertainment districts, adding a new dimension of convenience and accessibility to the Porsche brand on the South Shore of Montreal.”

Porsche Lauzon is located in Laval roughly 40 km away on Montreal’s North Shore, though it notes on the company website it also serves the South Shore.

Exactly when city council is expected to rule on the matter is not known.

- With files from Le Journal de Montréal