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Concord Lincoln dealership closing after 23 years

  • Sales assistant Jillian McDonnell moves a car from the sales lot in front of Lincoln of Concord as the dealership closes for good on November 15, 2013. Unsold cars will be sent to the Ford company and sold at auction.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Sales assistant Jillian McDonnell moves a car from the sales lot in front of Lincoln of Concord as the dealership closes for good on November 15, 2013. Unsold cars will be sent to the Ford company and sold at auction.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Richard Boynton of Concord, who came in to pay a repair bill, says goodbye to business manager Nick Wright (left) and service advisor Lee Clarkson as he receives his receipt and becomes Lincoln of Concord's last customer before closing for good on November 15, 2013. "I think if I could sum it all up in one word…it would be trust," said Boynton, who said he'd been a customer "pretty much right from the start."<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Richard Boynton of Concord, who came in to pay a repair bill, says goodbye to business manager Nick Wright (left) and service advisor Lee Clarkson as he receives his receipt and becomes Lincoln of Concord's last customer before closing for good on November 15, 2013. "I think if I could sum it all up in one word…it would be trust," said Boynton, who said he'd been a customer "pretty much right from the start."

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Werner Hertel, a sales consultant at Lincoln of Concord who has worked there for 21 years, leaves work for the last time a little after 5 p.m. as the car dealership closes for good on November 15, 2013. "I'm the last of the sales breed," said Hertel, who just turned 80 and hasn't decided whether he'll retire or find another position.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Werner Hertel, a sales consultant at Lincoln of Concord who has worked there for 21 years, leaves work for the last time a little after 5 p.m. as the car dealership closes for good on November 15, 2013. "I'm the last of the sales breed," said Hertel, who just turned 80 and hasn't decided whether he'll retire or find another position.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Drew Peterson, Lincoln of Concord's parts manager for the past 19 years, gives general manager Colleen O'Brien a hug goodbye as the car dealership closes for good on November 15, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Drew Peterson, Lincoln of Concord's parts manager for the past 19 years, gives general manager Colleen O'Brien a hug goodbye as the car dealership closes for good on November 15, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Sales assistant Jillian McDonnell moves a car from the sales lot in front of Lincoln of Concord as the dealership closes for good on November 15, 2013. Unsold cars will be sent to the Ford company and sold at auction.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Richard Boynton of Concord, who came in to pay a repair bill, says goodbye to business manager Nick Wright (left) and service advisor Lee Clarkson as he receives his receipt and becomes Lincoln of Concord's last customer before closing for good on November 15, 2013. "I think if I could sum it all up in one word…it would be trust," said Boynton, who said he'd been a customer "pretty much right from the start."<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Werner Hertel, a sales consultant at Lincoln of Concord who has worked there for 21 years, leaves work for the last time a little after 5 p.m. as the car dealership closes for good on November 15, 2013. "I'm the last of the sales breed," said Hertel, who just turned 80 and hasn't decided whether he'll retire or find another position.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Drew Peterson, Lincoln of Concord's parts manager for the past 19 years, gives general manager Colleen O'Brien a hug goodbye as the car dealership closes for good on November 15, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

After 23 years in business, Concord’s sole Lincoln dealership, Lincoln of Concord, has closed.

The business shuttered its doors for the last time yesterday about 6 p.m.

“That we’ve been able to be a standalone small dealership for so long has to do with our customers and the community,” said sales manager Candace Fitzgerald. “And for that we are forever grateful.”

Fitzgerald attributed the closure to sluggish sales and the fact that the business didn’t carry other cheaper brands, which could have helped draw potential Lincoln customers to the lot, at 158 Manchester St. Ford Motor Co., which owns the Lincoln brand, has been closing standalone Lincoln dealerships for years, but Fitzgerald said the Concord dealership was able to weather much of that storm. In the end, she said, it was an opportunity to lease the lot to a neighboring Kia dealer that pushed owner Denise Crowley to take action.

Nearly all of the company’s roughly two-dozen employees have found new jobs, Fitzgerald said. Crowley has opted to retire.

Fitzgerald, who worked at the dealership for 17 years, described her co-workers as “tight-knit, like a family.” And the same went for the customers, she said.

Ford, which narrowly avoided bankruptcy seven years ago, has been posting improved sales figures recently, distributing 13.9 percent more vehicles in October than the same month a year ago. Total sales have surged 12.2 percent this year through October, according to the research firm Autodata.

But Lincoln has not kept pace. Sales of the brand fell 3 percent this year through October. Ford sold 20,901 Lincoln MKZ midsize sedans in the same period, just two more than it did in that duration a year earlier.

Lincoln sales have been cascading for years, the product, analysts say, of lackluster designs, poor marketing and an inability to outdo competitors. Two decades ago, about the same time Lincoln of Concord opened, the brand was considered a leading luxury vehicle. Its reign peaked in 1990 with 231,660 deliveries. This year, by comparison, Ford sold just 66,983 through October. Lincoln accounts today for about 3 percent of the company’s total sales, down from 8 percent in its heyday.

Lincoln’s decline mounted after 2000 as Ford purchased other luxury brands, including Jaguar, and customers turned increasingly to foreign competitors, such as Lexus and Mercedes-Benz.

But amid the recession, Ford circled back, shedding its other luxury brands and refocusing its attention – and funds – on Lincoln.

In its latest effort to revive the brand, the company last year unveiled what was pitched as a game-changing overhaul, debuting the first of four new models and launching advertisements and incentive programs to lure potential buyers – particularly of the younger generation – to them.

Next year, the company plans to roll out a new utility vehicle, the MKC, which will house the brand’s first Lincoln-exclusive engine, as well as a number of plush add-ons such as approach-detecting headlamps and LED-projected “welcome mats.” The changes are meant to silence critics who have argued that Lincoln vehicles are little more than dolled-up versions of their cheaper Ford counterparts.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

Legacy Comments3

If you want to get big bucks for a car, it has to stand out, not blend in, with a Chevy. Remember the old suicide doors?

It's sad to see a business go out but I'm not surprised. After Ford pulled the plug on Mercury, surviving on Lincoln's meager offerings was next to impossible. Overall, Ford's done a great job at turning their fortunes around under Alan Mulally but they let Lincoln die on the vine. Their products are simply not appealing. Rival Cadillac (across the street at Banks) has been offering fresh new products for several years now and backing it up with great advertising. Ford needs to do something dramatic or the Lincoln brand is going to disappear entirely.

You nailed that one. The Lincoln MKZ does not compete well with Cadillac. Ford has proven themselves with the Focus and Fusion which is are solid economy choices, but you are correct they either have to make Lincoln sexy or they will fade into oblivion.

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