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Slow and steady for Infiniti in Oz

Boutique affair: Infiniti is going for a boutique hotel feel with its dealerships that are designed using the IREDI (Infiniti Retail Environment Design Initiative) standard.

Infiniti happy with progress in Australia as third dealership opens in Melbourne

14 Mar 2013

INFINITI Cars Australia general manager Kevin Snell said he is happy with sales of the fledgling luxury brand in Australia, despite having sold 109 vehicles since its launch in September last year.

Speaking at the opening of the Infiniti Centre Brighton yesterday, Mr Snell said that the priority at launch was to establish the brand in Australia and build the dealer network.

“We have been open since September in Sydney, around Christmas time in Brisbane and we have just opened here in Brighton this week so from our perspective our first priority was to get those three dealerships open, introduce the brand to the consumers, to the media and then we start to build from there,” he said.

“We are happy with the reception of the brand and the product and happy with the initial sales.”

Infiniti launched in Australia in September with the FX SUV and the M sedan range before releasing the G coupe and convertible in December, bringing the current line-up to four models.

Last year, Infiniti sold 49 FX SUVs and 21 M sedans in the first four months of sale, while in the first two months of 2013 it has shifted 12 units of the FX, 4 M sedans and 8 G coupe/convertibles.

Mr Snell said that the local arm of the Nissan-owned car-maker has worked closely with Infiniti headquarters in Hong Kong to set the brand up locally and that it has been pleased with the progress so far.

“Their focus is the same as ours. The direction from the top is to establish the brand and deliver the customer experience. Sales are what follows in the years to come, it’s not the primary focus of these first couple of years.

“If we don’t establish the brand, the retailers and the experience, then any sales would be short lived, so we have to get the foundations of the house right and then we build from there,” he said.

Mr Snell said that some of the initial sales were made up of dealer registered vehicles for test-driving purposes, but sales were now being driven by consumers.

“We are seeing the numbers grow month-to-month in terms of the consumer registrations and certainly in recent months that’s been the majority of the primary source of sales. Of course in those early weeks, once we got a few press cars and dealer test drive cars but it is very much consumers who are driving sales now,” he said.

 center imageLeft: Infiniti Cars Australia general manager Kevin Snell

The Infiniti Centre Brighton is the third Australian dealership to open since the brand launched and is owned by the burgeoning Preston Motors group, following a withdrawal from the franchise last year by the Penfold Group.

Built in time to coincide with the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Brighton site was designed according to Infiniti’s IREDI (Infiniti Retail Environment Design Initiative) standard and aims for an intimate “boutique hotel” feel.

Mr Snell said that the next phase for Infiniti would be to open dealerships in Perth and Adelaide in the next 12 to 18 months before expanding to smaller cities are larger regional centres in 2014 to 2015.

“We have pretty much got a five to seven year plan to grow the network step-by-step. We are not trying to take the established players on in one fell swoop in one year, this is a five to 10 year plan to establish Infiniti as a true alternative to the existing luxury players,” he said.

Mr Snell highlighted Perth as a strong market thanks to the mining boom and said that opening a dealership in the Western Australian capital was a priority for the luxury brand.

“We are talking to people in Perth, we are working on it but we won’t make a final decision until the right solution is there with partner and location and that can take some time, but we are hopeful in the next 12 to 18 months we will have something open in Perth.” Mr Snell said that he was comfortable with Infiniti’s local pricing strategy and has ruled out reducing prices in an attempt to bolster sales.

“I think if you look at all of our cars, they sit pretty competitively in terms of the performance they offer at a price point and the standard level of equipment. We are comfortable with where they sit and that’s where they will stay,” he said.

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