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Local Nissan chief explodes myths

Myth buster: Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Richard Emery said the company has moved on from overstocking issues that plagued it last year.

Stock oversupply, sales underachievements and angry dealer rumours scotched

Nissan logo18 Jul 2014

NISSAN has hit out at persisting reports that its Australian operations are dogged with falling sales, too much stock and a dissatisfied dealer body, revealing that the opposite is now true for the brand for the first time in years.

Using the Qashqai press event in Brisbane to set the record straight, Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Richard Emery outlined in step-by-step detail what he called the facts behind “the myths” that continue to hound him.

Building on what was discussed with GoAuto during his first week as head of Nissan Australia at the X-Trail launch in April, Mr Emery emphasised that the fight-back plan is well on track for Nissan to operate “normally” in Australia by the last quarter of this year.

However, he also admitted that Nissan still has “to work harder” to address all issues involving stock, sales and the right model mix.

Discussing the ‘Nissan Now’ internal plan he implemented after he started his role earlier this year, Mr Emery said it was time for the Japanese brand to hit the resent button in Australia and start afresh.

“To some extent it’s about forgetting about the past, and dealing with what we can deal with today – that is the ‘Now’.

“And that has been the first order of business because there are certain things we needed to do in terms of resetting our position,” he said.

“Now this program is all about building momentum and confidence with our staff and our dealers. It has already translated into solid results.

Mr Emery took the opportunity to clarify a number of issues that surfaced last year, including the overstocking of vehicles to its dealer network.

“Nissan does not have 20,000 cars on grass. Our dealers are not way overstocked. And Nissan dealers are not carrying months of so-called ‘counted’ cars.

“And in response to these myths here are some facts that I want to cover.

“Right now Nissan dealers has less than 40 days of supply – and the industry normally runs somewhere between 50 and 60 days.

“(Nissan Australia’s) supply situation is now less than 60 days, and in fact by the end of this month we expect that to be less than four figures in terms of the stock that we have.

“Our numbers of dealer demonstrators are trending down not up, and they are from our perspective exactly where the market would expect us to be in terms of carrying dealer demonstrators.

Mr Emery highlighted some of the brand’s models that still require attention, but added that Nissan had exceeded its sales targets for the second quarter and that he expected the upward trend to continue through to the end of 2014.

“Do we have some models in all that mix that are higher than we’d like? Of course we do, and we need to work harder on a couple of those models, particularly in the higher grades of Pulsar and some of our Patrol stock.

“But we have a strong balance of stock and sales, and our dealers and customers are benefitting from a much more structured and a much more consistent stocking position.

“In terms of performance you can tell from that stock position that we’ve done a great job of clearing out our stock situation and that comes by our solid sales results.

“So the second quarter of this year Nissan exceeded its national retail sales targets, the vast majority of our dealer network exceeded their first quarter sales targets, our average weekly order intake is strong and climbing, as has been our national market share.

“We’re attributing all of this without visible large-scale dealer incentives or programs. We have a strong range of cars and SUVs and it’s matched to a strong plan with good marketing. And the results have already started arriving in terms of our order intake, our sales results, our dealer success levels, and certainly our customer and dealer satisfaction levels.” Mr Emery also used the event to forever quash former managing director and CEO Dan Thompson’s stated goal in 2008 that Nissan Australia would be the number one vehicle importer by the end of Japanese fiscal year 2012 with 10 per cent market share.

“One of my predecessors said Nissan will be the number one vehicle importer in Australia. I’m cutting this off,” he said bluntly.

“It is no longer valid for our business… I still see it in the press, but I’m telling you now – it is not part of my plan for Nissan Australia.

“My priority for our customers, our dealers and our brand is not to strive for vanity titles or scores. So please understand that the claim for being number one is neither valid or our view anymore.

“We have more important plans we’ve started under the Nissan Now banner and they will ultimately benefit our customers and dealers.”

Later, Mr Emery admitted that while his media statement on ‘Nissan Now’ is an attempt to bury the rumours once and for all, the company had deserved some of the flack it has attracted.

“It has been pervading a little bit. We probably deserved some commentary on some of these myths a year/year and a half ago,” he said.

“But it’s been a long time since we’ve solved some of those issues and dealt with them. And there was still some latent commentary coming through, which we felt needed to be expunged.

“We did a lot of work on it even before the X-Trail event (in April) in terms of preparation and made some decisions about the way we are doing business going forward.

“We weren’t the only ones doing that sort of stuff, but we opened ourselves up to be the poster boy for it in the industry.

“Once I was comfortable that we had culturally changed, that we dealt with those issues, then I was confident enough to go up there… saying that this is old history now and here’s where we are at.”

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