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ATL Automotive snags regional dealership for BMW and Mini

Published:Sunday | December 13, 2015 | 12:00 AMNeville Graham
Adam Stewart, CEO of ATL Group
The BMW X5
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ATL Automotive has landed the regional dealership for the BMW and Mini brands in a game changer that jolts the local operations of one of ATL's primary rivals, while giving the company access to what is now considered the top selling luxury auto in Jamaica.

Under the master dealership with BMW AG, ATL will represent the two brands in nine markets, including Jamaica. And it will take over the dealerships from Stewart's Auto Sales, which holds the dealership under subsidiary Stewart Motors Limited.

Duncan Stewart, managing director of Stewart's Auto Sales Limited, declined to say how they were responding to the lost business, but there is industry talk that they are already going after new brands.

ATL Automotive said it beat out other rival bids from Europe and the Americas to land the regional master dealership, which takes effect on February 15, 2016.

The deal makes ATL the first Jamaican company to take on a master dealer arrangement for the region. It comes 18 years into the founding of the auto trading business.

News of the possible takeover of the BMW dealership began circulating in November.

After initially denying the deal, ATL Automotive finally confirmed Friday that it would take direct control of the sales and after sales of BMW and Mini in Jamaica on February 15, 2016, and will play a regional management role in eight other countries - Trinidad & Tobago, The Bahamas, Cayman, Curacao, Barbados, Aruba, St Lucia and Suriname - starting April 1.

Inside Jamaica, ATL will operate the dealerships under a separate company called ATL Autobahn. All dealers in the other eight countries will have to do business through ATL Automotive.

"ATL Automotive is the regional master dealer. We'll be the central hub to include the distribution of cars and parts, service support, regional marketing initiatives as well as the central training ground via the company's revered ATL Academy of Excellence to all the other dealers in the eight countries we represent," ATL Group CEO and Deputy Chairman Adam Stewart said as he outlined the set-up.

ITC is also the regional representative for Land Rover and Jaguar, both of which were in the ATL Automotive stables until September 1, 2015, when Stewart's Auto Sales acquired the Jamaican dealerships. At the time, Adam Stewart had downplayed the developments, saying ATL found the structure of having to do business through an intermediary too costly. ATL's preference, he said then, was to find deals in which the company would have direct dealings with auto manufacturers.

"We said previously that our policy would be to work directly with manufacturers only, rather than via third parties. This appointment sees us working directly with BMW AG," Adam Stewart told Sunday Business.

"This a tremendous moment for ATL Automotive and perfectly caps a year of long-term strategic planning that saw us make bold decisions, with our customers at the centre, on where we saw the future of the automotive industry going. This appointment has come to fruition because of our drive, peerless regional know-how and good, old-fashioned endeavour. Great credit must go to the minds and management of the ATL Automotive team," he added.

However, the ATL CEO would not be drawn on the financial impact of the deal with BMW, saying only that: "It's massive." ATL Automotive's portfolio of dealerships otherwise include German brands Audi and VW under ATL Autohaus, and Japanese brand Honda under ATL Motors.

Under ATL Autobahn, the company will develop "two world-class, state-of-the-art sales and service facilities" for BMW and Mini - the first in Kingston, and then Montego Bay. In the meantime, the brands will be sold from two temporary locations.

Stewart's Auto Sales still have a year left in their contract as dealers for BMW, but there was no indication of what will happen by way of compensation. Duncan Stewart said the discussions were confidential.

Adam Stewart is promising a seamless transition of the business, saying service inclusive of packages and new car warranties held by existing customers will be fully honoured.

 

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to remove incorrect information that Interamericana Trading Corporation was previously a regional dealer for BMW. Also, ITC did not bid on the current master dealer contract.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com