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Superstores get cold shoulder

Expansive mood: Jaguar Australia will concentrate on renovating and expanding its dealer group.

Jaguar Australia believes a "superstore" is not sustainable here

Jaguar logo11 Jun 2001

By BRUCE NEWTON in PARIS

JAGUAR Australia managing director Danny Rezek has dismissed the prospect of establishing "superstores" with Volvo Australia and Land Rover Australia, fellow members of Ford's Premier Auto Group luxury conglomerate.

Mr Rezek, who has overseen the transition of Jaguar Australia from Inchcape to Ford ownership - a move formalised on June 1 - is doubtful the local market can sustain such a concept.

In February the United AutoGroup broke ground with a PAG superstore in Phoenix, Arizona. The 6ha site has showrooms for all five PAG brands - Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Lincoln.

The building is shaped in a crescent with separate store fascias, showrooms, sales and service staff and service reception areas. The site also includes a test track.

UAG plans to build 10 PAG sites by the end of 2002. There are also PAG "supersites" in several other countries including France and Canada, with more sites opening in Germany and Great Britain soon.

"I look at those things and think that's a great idea. It's interesting, it's novel and it's part of the new way of retailing," said Mr Rezek.

"But at the end of the day it's very bold and I would think it would cost tens of millions of dollars. The problem is, where are you going to find the acreage to do that in downtown Sydney? "We've probably got more chance for the success of a concept like that in places like Adelaide or Perth. Purely because of the price of real estate and the availability, you've got some chance of pulling that off." But Mr Rezek prefers to concentrate on renovating and expanding the Jaguar dealer group from today's 26 to about 32 by the end of 2004. All the new dealerships will come in major provincial centres.

That expansion goes hand in glove with the launch of the "affordable" new X-Type compact luxury sedan in mid-October.

Mr Rezek believes that car will play a key role in doubling Jaguar sales to 2000 in 2002, and then could double them again to 4000 in 2004.

The X-Type will be launched with a starting price around $70,000 for the 2.5 V6 Sport manual, stretching through to almost $90,000 for the 3.0 V6 auto-only SE.

"Now that we have X-Type there is some potential and volume in these smaller towns where there is no potential for an XK or an XJ," Mr Rezek said.

"But the potential is to sell a couple of X-Types a month and maybe some S-Types. But until we have had the X-Type we couldn't justify having a very expansive dealer network." A new dealership has been established in Cairns and several more are set to be signed off, including one that Mr Rezek says will by coincidence rather than design be the first in Australia to house Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo.

X-Type is not Mr Rezek's sole basis for sales growth. Jaguar will be boosted by the expansion of the "R" performance brand with the launch of the supercharged S-Type R in 2002 and the release of the replacement for the stalwart XJ8, codenamed X350 and due by early 2003.

n Jaguar Australia expects to move into new joint-headquarters with Volvo Australia and Land Rover Australia in January, 2002.

A 4000 square metre site is currently being negotiated in North Ryde, Sydney, to accommodate the 125 employees from the three companies that will shift there.

IT'S WAGONS HO

ONE of the hottest debates within Jaguar is which variant of X-Type comes first and which should be done at all.

"The argument appears to boil down to the Europhiles backing the estate, while the rest of the world - including Danny Rezek - would like a coupe or convertible.

"My two cents' worth goes on coupes and convertibles," Mr Rezek said.

"There are two reasons. First is that they are great looking image cars and Jaguar's history is sedans and sports car.

"Second, being pragmatic about it, the potential for coupes and convertibles in Australia is far greater than wagons." But Mr Rezek is realistic about the direction of the debate.

"Australia is hardly going to determine which way it is going to go," he said.

"Look at the volumes around the world and I think that favours an estate."

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