JAGUAR GEARS UP FOR THE FUTURE

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Jaguar dealers invest over R3 million in retail network

  • Investments align dealerships to luxurious all-new XJ
  • Retail network and head office face 2010 with optimism

Soccer enthusiasts are not the only South Africans who are eagerly awaiting 2010. After the successful launch of the new XF and year of strong sales, Jaguar South Africa and its dealer network are quietly celebrating … and they are confident of repeating this feat in 2010.

All around the country, Jaguar and its dealers are making sizeable investments, upgrading their facilities and preparing the Jaguar retail environment for 2010 and the launch of the all-new XJ. Already one of the most talked-about vehicles ever to be launched by the maker of beautiful, fast cars, the company’s four-door flagship is expected to build on the success of the new XK and XF models.

In keeping with the launch of this highly sophisticated new vehicle, Jaguar dealerships countrywide have committed to major upgrades, while a brand new dealership will open in the Eastern Cape.

The first dealership that is undergoing a significant upgrade is Jaguar Bryanston, which opened in 1997 and forms part of the Southern Motor Holdings (SMH) Group. According to Fanie Delport, dealer principal, the group is investing more than R1 million in the upgrade.

The flagship dealership for Jaguar in South Africa, this retail outlet has a long and proud history with the brand. “While we only opened this specific dealership as recently as 1997, we have been servicing customers since 1976!” reveals Delport. “In fact, we have been selling and servicing these remarkable cars since the Leyland days, prior to Ford’s involvement in the marque. We used to operate from the centre of Johannesburg but, based on the enormous interest in the Jaguar brand, we took the decision to invest in the Bryanston dealership in 1997.”

Prominently located on the corner of Peter Place and William Nichol Drive in Bryanston, the facility will soon boast a completely new car showroom and a revamped used car showroom.

“We are creating a completely new look and feel in time for the launch of the all-new XJ, and customers will be treated to a comprehensive retail environment change,” reveals Delport. “The new showroom is designed to complement the new range of vehicles and emulate the essence of the brand. While all the cars in our range are upmarket and high-end, the new XJ is especially exclusive, and the improvements will align the dealership with this luxurious new vehicle.”

The SMH Group recently invested in upgrading the exterior of the dealership and Delport says that the group made the decision to invest because “the brand is doing well and the future is robust “. “The complete new product range is extremely impressive in all respects, from its design to its aesthetics and technology,” he notes.

Jaguar Umhlanga is also planning a substantial investment – over R600 000 in the case of the KwaZulu-Natal dealership. According to Darren Gray, dealer principal,
the Umhlanga dealership will soon gain an upgraded showroom and the outlet has just invested over R250 000 in special tools.

“We are revamping the showroom, the customer lounge and the service reception area,” Gray reports.

He says that the dealership, owned by Combined Motor Holdings, is enjoying support from a far wider customer base than ever before. “Our product line-up has never been better. The technology in the cars is class leading; we now have a range of high-performance cars that are extremely fuel efficient, highly spec’d, and deliver on the promise of beautiful fast cars.

“As a result of the metamorphosis of the brand and our product range, a Jaguar has now become an extremely appealing option for a wider range of clients. We are determined to provide those clients with world-class facilities and service levels,” he reveals.

Jaguar Cape Town is also making significant investments at its City Bowl dealership. With its spectacular views of Table Mountain, this dealership is already a jewel in the Jaguar crown but, according to dealer principal Albert Pretorius, the facility is about to be upgraded, in keeping with Jaguar’s corporate identity.

“This is already a state-of-the-art dealership and it’s only five years old, but we will be investing a substantial amount of money within the next couple of months,” he reveals.

The dealership, which is owned by Combined Motor Holdings, is enjoying considerable success – so much so that Pretorius says that, were he to open a new vehicle dealership, he would definitely ensure that it was devoted to the Jaguar brand.

This dealership is doing an especially remarkable job with the XK, and Pretorius says that it’s “very much a Cape Town car”. “The convertible is proving especially popular amongst Cape Town buyers – what better way to enjoy our beautiful scenery and weather? People feel good, driving a beautiful car in a beautiful environment,” he points out.

In fact, Jaguar Cape Town has been attracting XK customers for some time now… “We sold 30 XKs pre-launch, without the customers even having seen the new product!” Pretorius reports.

Cape Town buyers are attracted to the car’s looks and niche premium position in the motor industry. “The Jaguar brand has changed completely. It used to be an old-school conservative British gentleman’s vehicle. But today it is contemporary and individualistic. It stands out from the run of the mill; there is nothing else out there quite like a Jaguar. Our customers also appreciate the fact that it is a tangible sign of success. If you drive a Jaguar, you are automatically perceived as successful and are associated with individuality…” he notes.

Given the excitement surrounding the brand, Pretorius has high expectations for his dealership specifically and the new XJ. “There is already considerable excitement surrounding the new car, and we have a list of firm orders from the captains of industry in Cape Town. The challenge, of course, is going to be deciding who gets the very first car in the mother city!” he reveals.

East of Johannesburg, there is also a flurry of activity at Jaguar Bedfordview, a dealership that was established by the SMH Group in 2003. “We will be embarking on a showroom upgrade prior to the launch of the XJ, thereby making the purchasing experience even more exclusive for customers,” reveals Bruce Allen, dealer principal.

Jaguar Bedfordview is currently riding a wave of success. “We are delivering a strong sales performance – but we are determined to do even better – this is one of the many areas we are focusing on in an effort to take Jaguar Bedfordview to the next level,” notes Allen.

Like his colleagues, Allen is upbeat about prospects for his dealership and the Jaguar brand. “The future is very promising, especially with the sensational Jaguar XJ coming next year. We have seen the vehicle and it has encouraged us to match the dealership to its standards of quality and luxury. The launch of the new XJ in April 2010 completes our range,” he points out.

Down in the friendly city, the Jaguar brand is also making its mark. After a 35-year absence, Jaguar has returned to Port Elizabeth and a new dealership – Jaguar Eastern Cape – will open its doors this month.

The franchise has been awarded to the Eastern Cape Motor Group, and the new dealership will be located at 1 Uitenhage Road, North End. It is a full franchise dealership, offering sales, parts and servicing. The Eastern Cape Motor Group has also stated its intentions to invest in a brand new facility shortly.

The North End dealership represents a substantial investment. According to Stephen Theodosiou, director of the Eastern Cape Motor Group, over R1 million has been invested in tooling alone. “This will be the flagship brand within our group,” he reveals.

Andrew Daniel, managing director of Jaguar South Africa, points out that these investments follow a decision by the company to invest in a new head office in Irene. “Be it at head office or retail level, we are determined to deliver world-class customer service, and we are willing to invest in order to do so. The success of our brand speaks for itself – the XF has won more than 20 international awards since its launch – and the brand was rated highly in the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Vehicle Dependability (VDS) Study,” he notes.

On a local front, this is translating into improved sales. “We are a niche brand and I am pleased to report that, month after month, the Jaguar brand continues to stamp its authority on the market niches in which we compete,” Daniel comments.

He adds that the significant investments at both head office and retail level across the country can only bode well for the future. “The motor industry continues to feel the overall economic pressure but we are facing 2010 with confidence,” he concludes.