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A NEW BEGINNING

Friday, December 15, 2017

COLOURFUL fireworks decorated the evening sky announcing something spectacular was happening beneath. Guests gazed at aerial blooms in delight while a few raised their glasses reminiscent of a New Year's Eve celebration.

But it was indeed a new day of sorts.

Game-changing dealership ATL Automotive was celebrating the opening its state-of-the-art BMW Future Retail Design showroom — dubbed ATL Autobahn — on Lady Musgrave Road in St Andrew last Saturday, its fifth showroom reveal in a 12-month period.

Adam Stewart, CEO of Sandals Resorts International and ATL group of companies, which includes ATL Automotive and Jamaica Observer newspaper, said the road to this point began three years ago.

“This journey started a few years ago in a very odd board meeting where we felt Jamaica deserves better... and we wrote BMW a love letter and basically said: 'We're the other Stewarts and we have a bigger vision where we think we can do more with your brand and Jamaica deserves better'. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe what's behind us is in fact just that concept... What you're witnessing tonight is what the industry calls a disruptor; when somebody comes along and shakes up the whole industry and at the end to the day, the beneficiary is going to be everyone of you — the consumers. The competitive tension was strengthened between ourselves and the Toyota group, the Stewart's Automotive Group, my good friend Jeffrey Panton from KIG is here... I want to recognise Jeffery, phenomenal friend, and competitor, and at the end of the day, it's all about taking the automotive industry to higher and higher heights,” said Stewart to the audience, which included government officials, diplomats, regional BMW representatives, businessmen, and corporate executives.

“But none of this could be possible without the BMW and MINI group having the faith in us to build right here on Lady Musgrave Road. Not only were we successful in being awarded the brand for Jamaica, but they also gave us the responsibility for eight countries in the Caribbean and we have representatives from those countries with us here tonight... For the first time, a Jamaican enterprise is actually the master dealer of an automotive industry, which has never happened before,” he continued.

Two years ago, ATL Automotive acquired regional dealership rights to BMW and MINI. The brands were previously being managed by the Stewart's Automotive Group (no relations).

Under the terms and conditions of the acquisition, ATL Autobahn will serve as a central hub to include the distribution of cars, parts and service support in Jamaica. It also assumes the role of regional master dealer for eight other countries — Trinidad and Tobago, The Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, Barbados, Aruba, St Lucia, and Suriname.

ATL Autobahn was operating a location owned by the previous dealers on Orchard Road in St Andrew.

The 33,000-sq-ft facility, which has a price tag of US$15 million, boasts a 10-car BMW showroom plus a hand-over bay, a four-car MINI display area which also includes a hand-over bay, and Jamaica's first-ever M lounge for discerning clients. The back-of-house area has an eight-ramp service area, wheel alignment bay, and viewing window for customers. It also will house a regional training room for BMW/MINI employees across the Caribbean.

The structure is outfitted with solar panelling which will supply 75 per cent of the facility's daily electric use; its window tint removes 90 per cent of the UV rays, while maintaining a light and airy feel.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness commended ATL Automotive's investment in Jamaica.

“This is one of the projects that has come to fruition within one year. I was breaking ground on this project 10 1/2 months ago and I was promised that it would be done within the year, and Adam in particular made me the comittment and it was done and I am pleased... It is a private sector investment totally, but we should also acknowledge that this was done because the investors had confidence in the economy. I want to use this platform to make the appeal, invest in Project Jamaica. Put your money where you live!” said Holness.

Four years ago, ATL Automotive opened its Volkswagen modular showroom and an Audi terminal in the city's financial district of New Kingston. With a tab of US$13.5 million, the showrooms were, at the time, the single largest investment in Jamaica's automotive history.

In addition to BMW and MINI, ATL Automotive is the authorised dealer for Honda, Audi, Volkswagen, Porsche, and KIA.

The evening saw speeches from Gordon “Butch” Stewart, chairman of the Sandals Resorts International and ATL group of companies; Antonio Antella, managing director of BMW in the Latin America and the Caribbean; and Karl Samuda, minister of industry, commerce, agriculture and fisheries.