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Audi to build landmark HQ in Sydney

Imposing: New eight-level Audi HQ and retail outlet opens in 2009.

Victoria Park retail development to be the biggest Audi facility in the world

13 Nov 2007

AUDI Australia is about to enter into retailing, with a $50 million landmark facility in one of the country’s most high-profile locations. The ‘Audi lighthouse’ will be the biggest Audi facility in the world when it opens in early 2009, according to the company.

Located on Sydney’s South Dowling St – the main road between the city and the airport – near the Eastern Distributor tunnel exit, the massive new eight-level facility will also be Audi’s new corporate headquarters in Australia.

Interestingly, the Victoria Park development site was once a British Leyland car assembly plant.

The $50 million required to buy the land and build the lavish new complex is to be provided by Audi AG in Germany.

It will become the new home of Audi Centre Sydney, which has until now been operated in nearby Rosebery by the Sutton Group.

Audi Australia has negotiated an agreement to take over that franchise from January 1 and has appointed Allan Brinck as the new dealer principal.

Mr Brinck was chosen for his factory-owned retail experience, having been the general sales manager of BMW Melbourne’s Southbank and Kings Way operations. He is a Sydney native and previously worked for the Alto and Trivett groups.

Audi Australia has formed a new entity to operate the dealership called Audi Australia Retail Company, but says it currently has no plans to take over or establish any more factory-owned dealerships although it does expect to expand to 40 dealers by 2015.

Victoria Park development will co-ordinated by experienced local automotive industry identity Peter Ruefli, who returned to the Audi brand as dealer development manager in 2005.

The company bought the 3655 square-metre Victoria Park block for $19.6 million late last month and will start construction of the 12,000 square-metre building early in the new year.

Designed by Audi’s local architect Johnson Pilton Walker, the facility is expected to be operational by the first quarter 2009.

With a 100-metre street frontage and an estimated 45 million cars passing each year, the new Audi HQ will provide the company with a high-profile presence in its largest market.

At an Audi dealer conference in Sydney last month, the company’s 30 dealers around Australia committed to spending a total of $140 million building new showrooms or upgrading existing facilities to allow for the company’s runaway growth.

Audi sales in Australia have almost doubled since 2004 and this level of sustained growth is second only to Russia in the Audi world.

As well as a further doubling of sales to 15,000 units by 2015, the four-ring brand also plans to expand its model range from 25 to 40 in that period, requiring considerably more floorspace at dealerships.

Earlier this year, Penfolds opened a new $11 million site in the Melbourne suburb of Burwood and Audi Centre Canberra will soon complete a $7 million redevelopment.

The most significant development to date is at Audi Five Dock in Sydney, where the first showroom in the world built to the company’s new “Terminal” architecture and costing $11 million is due to be completed before Christmas.

Audi’s own factory-owned dealership at Victoria Park is expected to account for 1500 new car sales – 10 per cent of the national total – and 1500 used cars within seven years.

Audi Australia managing director Joerg Hofmann said that the Audi AG board’s approval of the $50 million to build the new corporate HQ and dealership reflected the brand’s strong growth here in the three years since the franchise became factory-owned.

Mr Hofmann said the investment also demonstrated Audi’s commitment to the Australian market, describing it as “one of the most significant overseas investments made to date” by the parent company.

“It was a big negotiation process with head office in Germany because, as you can imagine, a lot of countries are in competition from headquarters,” said Mr Hofmann, adding that negotiations took two years.

“So it was very exciting to get it approved. $50 million for Australia is a huge investment – it is the biggest Audi overseas investment.

“It will be the biggest facility in the southern hemisphere, and for the time being it will be maybe the biggest Audi facility in the world. There are a few big projects coming up in Europe as well, but they will take some time.

“We are so excited and happy about it because it clearly shows the confidence of head office in Australia. It is a clear message of support from our headquarters and will raise awareness of the Audi brand to a completely new level.”Each of the new building’s four storeys will feature a mezzanine floor, making a total of eight levels linked by ramps, with car parking on the roof and underground.

The first four levels will be for new and used car sales, accommodating 25 new display cars and 70 pre-owned, the next two will be for service (with 20 bays) and corporate headquarters will occupy the top two levels.

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