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Nissan backs Mitsubishi Aus HQ in Adelaide

Mann of his word: Mitsubishi Motors Corporation COO Trevor Mann said the Mitsubishi Australia corporate headquarters would remain in Adelaide.

No joint HQ, sales and marketing, or dealers for Mitsubishi and Nissan

13 Jun 2017

RENAULT-Nissan Alliance management will not force through a change of headquarters on Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) from its current Adelaide site, and it will not demand dealerships of the currently separate brands to merge, key company executives have insisted.

Following its purchase of a controlling stake of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) last year, both Renault-Nissan Alliance chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn and MMC chief operating officer Trevor Mann last week met with key local stakeholders, including to inform dealers of its future plans.

Speaking with Australian media at an event in Sydney, Mr Mann admitted that part of the purpose of the fly-in visit was to reassure local dealers that current Nissan and Mitsubishi outlets would not be merged together going forward.

“We’ve had a session with the dealers and you can imagine that the dealers are wondering if the brand (Mitsubishi) will be diluted, are we going to lose something, and the answer is no,” he said.

“If we are joining a site in terms of a dealer showroom, that would probably be at the request of the dealer and not us. That’s what happens elsewhere in the world between Nissan and Renault. If you’ve got a good Mitsubishi dealer that wants to start to sell Nissan … then that will be evaluated by Nissan.

“It’s extremely important that Australia, as well as a few other countries in South-East Asia like Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines perhaps, remains a bedrock for Mitsubishi, because that’s where we’re strongest.

“We can’t afford as a company for that to be diluted. Our brand and our focus will still be pretty much on Australia and we will try to do what is right for Australia for us to grow.” Unlike in Europe or the US, Mitsubishi outsells Nissan in Australia. The margin between the brands has widened further this year, according to VFACTS May 2017 results, with 30,407 Mitsubishis and 23,490 Nissans sold in the first five months of the year, a respective increase of 6.5 per cent and decrease of 13.0 per cent versus the same period in 2016.

That superior local performance from Mitsubishi has led Mr Mann to back not only the brand’s dealers but also its management functions in Adelaide.

Despite the recent announcement the brand will share with Nissan both parts and distribution warehousing, and financial services, Mr Mann insisted that the location of MMAL headquarters in Adelaide would not move to join with Nissan and Renault in Melbourne, with separate sales and marketing teams maintained.

“I think we have got to do what is right for us (and) we have got to understand that a lot of our roots are in Adelaide and a lot of our people are there as well,” Mr Mann said.

“If we were to say, sorry guys but we’re moving … there’s a lot of factors. How many of our talented people would we lose? Is it a real cost saving? “I think the key thing is that one of the areas that we want to keep distinctly different from Nissan and Renault is the sales and marketing functions. If we wanted to invite somebody to Mitsubishi’s headquarters, it would be to Mitsubishi’s headquarters and I think that it’s part of our identity.

“If it made sense because we could share rent, then that would be a consideration, but it wouldn’t be the driver. (And) we can still work together and still talk about if there are some synergies that we can do on the sales and marketing side – for example, buy-in media, we could still do that.” It has been nine years since MMAL closed its Tonsley Park manufacturing facility south of Adelaide, ending production of the Mitsubishi 380 large car. Although the HQ remains, the factory has been redeveloped into an ‘innovation precinct’.

Mr Mann reiterated that although platform sharing is set to be the greatest asset for Mitsubishi as part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the operations of the companies must remain as different as the vehicles themselves.

It was cited that Renault Australia has a different headquarters in Melbourne to Nissan Australia, although some functions are shared including the New South Wales state offices.

“For Mitsubishi even though our biggest shareholder is Nissan at the moment and our chairman is Mr Ghosn, Mitsubishi is still Mitsubishi and will remain so,” he continued.

“Personally, I have worked in the (Renault-Nissan) Alliance for more than 18 years, so I understand how the Alliance works.

“I understand what Mr Ghosn wants from each Alliance partner – previously there were two and now there are three – and I have a clear understanding of what our role is and what Mr Ghosn expects is that each brand (individually) punches above its weight.”

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