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Renault Australia hits expansion button

Insufficient no more: Renault has grown its presence in New South Wales with seven new dealers, along with five extra in other eastern states.

Twelve new dealers – including seven in NSW – widen Renault Australia footprint

Renault logo31 Jan 2013

RENAULT has addressed a glaring weakness in its ambitious Australian growth plan with the addition of 12 new dealers, including seven in New South Wales where it was “savagely underdone”.

The dozen additions, made between March and December 2012, have taken Renault’s Australian dealer network from an “insufficient” 19 sites at the start of last year to 31, a crucial step as the company pursues a third consecutive year of double-digit sales growth in 2013.

Among the additions is a new three-level 2000 square-metre flagship facility in the inner-Sydney suburb of Waterloo, dubbed “the most significant investment a dealer has made in the brand”.

Set to officially open its doors in March – the operators are using a temporary facility – the new Sydney City Renault will include eight dedicated work bays and a 750 square-metre display area.

The remaining additional NSW sites are in Gosford, Wollongong, Broadmeadow, Port Macquarie, Haberfield and Albury, and are joined by two new sites in the ACT (at Belconnen and Phillip), two in Victoria (Brighton and Epsom) and one in downtown Hobart.

 center imageLeft: Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar.

According to Renault Australia director of network development John Whalley, the additional dealers will give the company presence in places where it has been sorely lacking.

“We began 2012 with 19 dealers, and for us to achieve the volumes that we set to do that was going to be insufficient. So we embarked on a program of predominately focusing on metropolitan areas, particularly Sydney where we were savagely underdone,” he said.

“The group of new dealers have, in many respects, brought an even greater sense of vigour and enthusiasm to the brand, and the investments they’re making in state-of-the-art facilities are considerable, and that’s to a great extent of the back off the confidence we’ve engendered.”

Mr Whalley said the company’s promise to dealers of a “more consultative” approach – including flexible development time-lines – solid recent sales growth and the imminent addition of more model lines made it an attractive proposition for numerous dealer groups.

“From a network perspective we do generally want to embrace the relationship as a partnership,” he said.

“It’s evident that within some quarters of the industry that there tends to be an inclination towards an adversarial rapport between distributor and dealer, but we want to break down some of those barriers and prejudices.”

After growing a substantial 89 per cent in 2011 after the introduction of several key new model lines, the company backed this up with solid 38 per cent growth last year (5011 sales in total), led by strong gains for its Megane and Koleos top-sellers.

Australia is now Renault’s largest market in its ‘DT1’ Asia Pacific region, ahead of Brunei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Singapore, Tahiti, Taiwan and Vietnam.

It is also the world’s second-largest Renault Sport market – and the world’s largest RS export destination – being beaten only by Renault’s home market of France in 2012.

Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar told GoAuto this week that “there’s absolutely scope for good upside this year”, but said it would become progressively harder to maintain the trajectory of 2011 and 2012 as its volume gradually increased.

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to keep up with the same levels of growth as last year, but we’d like to target something greater than 10 per cent, and if we did more than 20 it would be fantastic,” he said.

“We’re a modest bunch and we know we’ve still got a lot of work to do with this brand. We’ve put a lot of building blocks into the market, but we’re not just going to go willy nilly throwing around money to get customers but not keep them.”

Mr Hocevar said Renault Australia’s 2013 would be defined by new dealers, imminent new models including the Clio and Megane wagon (both mid-2013) and more fleet-focus on its light commercial range.

Furthermore, the company plans to spend more on advertising this year than at any time since its re-introduction to Australia in 2001, beginning with its current mainstream television campaign.

Mr Hocevar said the company also planned to further grow its dealer network by “about 20 per cent” or six dealers in 2013, including the opening of its first Northern Territory site. GoAuto understands several agreements are well-advanced.

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