August 11 2004. The Office of Fair Trading has helped to clarify confusion amongst Peugeot car dealers over the car manufacturer's 'Blue Box' corporate branding standard for car sales premises. Peugeot has reassured dealers that the standard is recommended but not compulsory.

Under the Blue Box standard the exterior of sales premises is clad in Peugeot blue. The OFT acted following complaints from Peugeot dealers passed on by the National Franchised Dealer Association. These dealers were under the impression that the standard was compulsory. They were concerned that such distinctive Peugeot branding would discourage multi-franchising of different makes of car on the same premises, as now permitted by the new block exemption for cars.

Peugeot informed the OFT that it recommends its dealers to up-grade to Blue Box at the appropriate time, (such as the building of new premises), but that they are not required to do so. It has since issued a general letter to its dealers reassuring them that the scheme is not mandatory but nevertheless highly recommended.

Penny Boys, OFT Executive Director, said: 'The OFT has new responsibilities for the enforcement of European
competition law and this is one of the first cases in which we have acted. The position of individual dealers has been strengthened considerably under the new block exemption and it is important that car buyers are allowed to benefit from the changes'.

The block exemption for motor vehicles exists to provide greater competition in new car sales, the servicing and repair of all cars and the supply of spare parts. One of the main aims of the new block exemption is to increase multi-franchising on the same sales premises.