Cupra, Seat’s premium performance brand, is understood to be planning to shift from a franchise model for its UK network to an agency agreement.

Sources within the Cupra network have described the move as “inevitable”. However there are concerns about the legality of the move as Cupra is still a sub-brand to the Seat franchise and operates from Seat showrooms.

A spokesman refused to deny the move saying: “We are constantly exploring new opportunities to retail our vehicles”.

One retailer voiced concerns that the move to an agency agreement would not properly address the fair distribution of investment costs because it was relying on Seat showrooms, facilities and staff.

Seat and Cupra owner Volkswagen Group already uses agency agreements for its fleet sales within several of its brands and, in some European countries, sells the VW ID electric cars under an agency model. However, while just over a year ago Volkswagen said it would do the same in the UK, it later backtracked.

Cupra would not be the first brand to use an agency model rather than franchise in the UK for retail sales. Volvo’s premium brand Polestar already operates in this way.

Many industry experts have predicted the widespread roll-out of new sales models that give the national sales company great control over pricing and customer contact – something they see as vital for online sales.