THE Appliance Traders Limited Group (ATL), headed by Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, has signed agreements with Volkswagen and Audi to be the exclusive dealers for both brands in Jamaica. This latest move will see ATL, which is already the home of Honda in Jamaica, restructure its automobile division into two distinct entities.
The parent company, ATL Automotive Limited, will house ATL Motors (formed in 1997) as the dealer for Honda motor vehicles and ATL Autohaus, which will now serve as the dealers for Volkswagen passenger and commercial vehicles and the prestigious Audi brand.
ATL is looking to make a quantum leap in car dealership premises in Jamaica, a commitment that will come in at a cost of US$13 million, US$8 million of which will be spent this year alone. The dealerships will be housed at three locations totalling 42,000 square feet. Premises on Oxford Road, Kingston in close proximity to where Sandals City (a corporate hotel concept) will be housed, have been earmarked for the venture. This facility will come in at 8,000 square feet and will eventually offer full sales and service facilities for Volkswagen and Audi vehicles. In the interim, Volkswagen will be offering services for its brand of vehicles from March 15, 2010 at a temporary facility which will be further developed in two years' time, serving as a second agency in Kingston. In May of this year, the full dealership for both Volkswagen and Audi will commence at the Oxford Road location and, in 2012, will be further developed in conjunction with Sandals City Hotel, thus forming a second agency in Kingston.
In July of this year, ATL will be opening another facility in Bogue, Montego Bay, which will come in at 9,000 square feet and will sell and service Honda, Volkswagen and Audi. The German car brands will come under European specifications for the sales area, while Honda will comply with Japanese specifications. Bogue will also be home to a state-of-the-art aircraft hanger concept for the service area.
In effect, ATL Automotive Limited will have three separate brands in Montego Bay, namely, Honda Motors, Volkswagen Passenger Vehicles and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. For years, Montego Bay has been without a top-class full-service dealership that offers quality vehicles, and ATL will now meet those needs.The country's second city is experiencing an upsurge in business activity and many professionals are relocating there, thus providing a rewarding market for ATL Automotive Limited. Furthermore, it sees the ATL Group servicing the motoring needs of the north coast of the country and positions it in readiness for the continued expansion of that section of the country.
ATL Automotive Limited remains on target for a January 2011 deadline, which will see the launch of a 25,000-square foot facility which will house ATL Autohaus brands on Hagley Park Road. It must be stressed here that Honda Motors will continue to reside on Hagley Park Road as a stand-alone, full-service dealership.
The new impressive ATL Autohaus facility will be second to none in Jamaica. It will act as ATL Automotive's premier agency offering sales services, repairs and parts for both Audi and Volkswagen vehicles. The addition of both Audi and Volkswagen will see the dealerships manned by a contingent of German-trained Grade A technicians working on a full-time basis.
ATL has done extremely well with Honda. When it started the dealership in 1997, it had just three per cent of the new car market. Today, with five models (Fit, Civic, Accord CRV and Citi), it has 14 per cent of the new car market. Honda has carved out a reputation as one of the most reliable automobiles on the market and the Accord has consistently bettered vehicles in its class ad infinitum, picking up a host of awards over the years.
Jamaican motorists have come to regard Honda as a marque they can trust and rely on with distinct styling and precise motoring efficiency. ATL's service record with Honda has no equal. ATL Motors has won the regional Honda Automobile Customer Experience (HACE) two years in a row and is aiming to make it three straight years in 2010.
Commenting on these deals that see ATL Automotive Limited with its three distinct brands announcing its presence as a major player in the car dealership business in Jamaica, ATL Group's Deputy Chairman Adam Stewart said: "ATL is making further inroads into Jamaica's auto industry. We are committed to our country's growth and development and will deliver unmatched first-world sales and service facilities. We have a fantastic track record with Honda, which we feel to be the innovative Japanese brand, and we are so excited to bring on board VW, which is positioned to be the world's largest automobile manufacturer, and Audi, which is without a doubt the fastest-growing premium car producer on planet Earth."
(See Part II in Sunday Finance)