Ford badgeFord’s UK operation has signed a partnership with fashion retailer Next to increase the range of sales outlets for its vehicles.

The carmaker will open a five-car showroom at a refurbished Next store in the Arndale shopping centre in Manchester. Test drives will be available and new cars can be handed over there, the company said.

A team of 15 product experts and support staff is being put together for the new-look showroom, which is scheduled to open in July.

Ford will also shortly be launching an online car sales pilot that will allow customers to specify, finance and order a new car for delivery to participating dealers, Ford in Manchester Arndale or to a home address anywhere in the country.

“There is a growing appetite to browse for cars in other retail environments and online which we are meeting with these new 2018 ventures,” said Andy Barratt, Ford of Britain’s chairman and managing director.

The company’s display at Manchester Arndale will initially include the new Fiesta, EcoSport and Mustang and will be changed regularly.

Barratt added that the company’s traditional dealership network would remain for the many consumers wanting to visit a dealer.

Ford’s latest moves reflect wider changes in the retail models used to sell cars. Retail firm Costco has an auto programme in place, for instance, while Amazon provides a sales platform for Fiat and Seat dealerships, among others.