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Retail makeover for Mercedes

Glass houses: An example of Mercedes-Benz's new corporate retail design.

Mercedes-Benz dealer network to spend $180 million on fresher facilities by 2010

Mercedes-Benz logo20 May 2008

By PHILIP LORD

MERCEDES-BENZ Australia/Pacific has announced that its dealer network will invest $180 million in 2008 and 2009 in a ground-up rebuilding of its retail outlets to a new Mercedes-Benz specification corporate design.

Of its 55 Australian dealers, the centrepiece of the planned renewed network is the new Mercedes-Benz of Sydney, which will be built on the site of a Schweppes bottle factory at 43-47 O’Riordan Street, Alexandria.

Building work on the $40 million-plus project is scheduled to commence in January 2009 and the site opened for business in early 2010.

The 17,000 square-metre site will incorporate a 1800 square metre two-level new-car showroom, a 2600 square-metre pre-owned vehicle area and a workshop with more than 30 work bays.

“All of this will be built in a structure that has been designed with environmental sustainability at its core – rainwater harvesting for the dealership wash bay, energy-efficient light fittings, high-performance glazing to reduce air-conditioning requirements and waste separation facilities installed to minimise the amount of waste going to landfill,” said Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific president and CEO Wolfgang D Schrempp.

The dealer design template, called the Autohaus Concept, was set in 2003 by Daimler AG’s own architectural department and many local Mercedes-Benz dealers have already rebuilt to this specification.

 center imageLeft: Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific president and CEO Wolfgang D Schrempp.

This uniform design for Mercedes-Benz dealers internationally, which uses a large glass panel wall sections and prominent, simple signage, should be familiar to travellers using Sydney or Melbourne domestic airports, where Mercedes-Benz Airport Express centres are prominent.

Mercedes-Benz acknowledges it has been slow on the uptake to make uniform its dealer network, given the large investment by competitor dealer networks such as Audi and BMW in recent years.

“It’s very obvious, every dealership must fit the product. Probably we did not act in an adequate way (in the past) – that is why we now have to (act),” said Mr Schrempp.

“We now are trying to have a new facility style all over the world. It’s like in a restaurant or a hotel, everything must fit together, the quality of the cars, the quality of the interior design, the quality of the staff.

“We have some special needs here in Australia, we have to take care of water, and we have to take care of the environment.

Normally you can do that only when you are refurbishing a dealership totally, and that is why the investment is pretty high, and will be pretty high in the coming years.”

To amortise the cost of the investment, Mr Schrempp said it that it would take the dealers less than 10 years “otherwise we would not have the acceptance of our network”.

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