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Mazda On A UK High

Mazda UK hit the high notes in 2006 with its best ever-sales performance since the marque was launched in the UK some 40 years ago. Mazda passenger car sales grew by 8.6 per cent versus a market that declined by 3.9 per cent.

Mazda also broke through 50,000 sales for the first time, achieving 50,166 new vehicle sales, a figure that establishes the company as a very significant player in the UK car market.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
Rob Lindley, Managing Director, Mazda UK
Managing director Rob Lindley explained the significance. “It has a psychological impact on the company and the dealer network. We also exceeded 2 per cent market share over the full year for the first time ever, but the significance of the 50,000 number is especially important to us.

“When Mazda took over the UK from the previous distributor, MCL, in 2001 sales of Mazda vehicles in that year were just 15,800. The growth up to 50,000 over the last five years has been a tremendous achievement by our team and our Dealer network.

“Mazda has now achieved between 45 and 50,000 sales for three consecutive years. This gives us more visibility on the road and provides an increasing service parc for the dealer network which improves long term viability.”

Success has been achieved without any single magic formula. “There is no alchemy involved in selling cars,” said Mr Lindley. “But you do have to ensure the fundamentals are in place – and they are good products and a strong dealer network.

“In 2006 we had a full year of the new Mazda MX-5 and Mazda5 to complement our existing range, while continuing to make new dealer appointments we have also seen some organic growth in the network.

“While we achieved a 2.1 per cent passenger car market share in the UK overall, our share in Scotland and Northern Ireland was around 3 per cent. Those regions are where our network is strongest as a whole and there are no open points.”

There are still gaps to fill in England but Mazda is making progress with new dealerships in Croydon and Chingford opening in early 2007. Mr Lindley added: “We have been under-represented in the Greater London and South East regions and these appointments will start to address this.”

Last year was also a good one for Mazda dealers with significant improvements in Dealer profitability. Mazda is now in the top quartile of manufacturers for dealer profitability – another goal Mr Lindley has been striving to achieve.

He added: “It means that Mazda UK can reasonably ask for a greater share of dealers’ future investment and management time. In 2006, average dealer profitability is over 200 per cent better than 2005 and we are in the top 25 per cent of the franchises in our competitive set.

“The main drivers behind improved dealer return on sales were more used vehicle sales, increasing new car sales of higher margin vehicles like the Mazda MX-5, RX-8 and the MPS range and reductions in fixed overhead costs.”

He said Mazda would build on its UK success this year with the launch of more new models. These include the Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe and the BT-50 pick-up, which went on sale at the end of 2006, while July/August time will see the launch of the Mazda CX-7 crossover SUV.

Mr Lindley added: “New Mazda CX-7 is our first entry into the growing crossover SUV segment. It provides us a great opportunity for incremental volume and dealer margins and it will also be very good for our brand image.”

More important still will be Mazda's new B-segment car, the ultimate replacement for the current Mazda2, which goes into production in June. This is a new vehicle which should achieve significant gains for Mazda in future in a segment where it has not historically performed as well.

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