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Stewart's amalgamates, rebrands Issa Transport acquisitions

Published:Wednesday | July 28, 2010 | 12:00 AM
The Mercedes Benz marquee on South Camp Road. Benz dealer Euro Star will now become Silver Star Motors Limited.
Motor Sales and Service will now trade under the name of Stewart's Auto Sales. - File photos

Stewart's Auto Sales Limited plans to shift its Suzuki dealership from Orchard Road to South Camp Road, where it will share space in the vehicle complex acquired from Issa Transport Group.

It's the next step in the amalgamation of operations that have already seen Mitsubishi dealer Motor Sales and Service Limited absorbed into Stewart's, and the latter company now ensconced at South Camp Road.

However, Stewart's Managing Director Diane Stewart said BMW would remain divorced from the South Camp complex, where it sells a rival German luxury brand, Mercedes Benz.

Stewart's Auto acquired five Issa Transport companies earlier this year.

Prior to the acquisition, Stewart's portfolio comprised three brands - BMW, Suzuki and Mini.

The expansion happened in the midst of a depressed economy, forcing Stewart's to double its marketing budget in order to support sales in a dwindling auto market.

"The industry has had its challenges as vehicles sales have fallen dramatically. However, we are in for the long haul and as the economy recovers, we expect to benefit from the upturn in sales," said Diana Stewart on Monday.

"In a recession, you have to market more vigorously in order to keep the product current in the minds of the consumers. Therefore, our advertising spend has doubled."

Little spending power

The economic downturn and the attendant job losses has pared away consumer spending power. New-car buyers are turning, instead, to second-hand vehicles, while those who still patronise the new-car market, are taking longer to make purchases.

"We also find that an owner is keeping their vehicle for longer periods. Gone are the days when you could count on a vehicle being changed every three years, especially for the higher-end vehicles," said Stewart.

The acquisition of Motor Sales, Motor Bike Sales and Service, Euro Star Motors, Jamaica Industrial Equipment Limited and Budget Rent-a-Car, was finalised in March.

Stewart's Auto, to eke efficiencies from its new assets, has amalgamated other operations in the group, and is positioning South Camp Road as a one-stop-shop for all clients, excluding BMW.

"Training is ongoing and a substantial amount has been invested and will continue to be invested," said Stewart.

Motor Sales will now trade under the name of Stewart's Auto Sales Limited, as will Motor Bike Sales and Service, which will be known as the Honda Motorcycle division.

Euro Star, dealers in Mercedes Benz, will now trade as Silver Star Motors Limited at 51 South Camp Road, and Jamaica Industrial Equipment will become Stewart Industrial Division, operating from 22 Bell Road.

The Budget franchise will be operated by Tropic Island Trading Company Limited, but continue trading as Budget Rent-a-Car at the 53 South Camp Road location.

Stewart Motors, importer of BMW vehicles, remains at Orchard Road.

The new Stewart Industrial has provided Stewart's entry to the market for commercial vehicles, and heavy duty equipment.

"In view of the acquisition of Mitsubishi, Mercedes and Honda Motor Cycle, it gives us a full range of transportation to offer to the public," said Stewart.

"Now, with our Stewart Industrial Division, this opens our offerings even wider with the trucks, mining, security and heavy duty equipment, etc, servicing many different sectors of the economy.

Stewart's automotive group was founded in 1938 by Lionel Arthur Stewart. The company is now majority owned by Simpson Motors of Barbados.

As of June 2010, the company, and its affiliates, Stewart's Auto Paints Limited and Stewart Motors employed some 220 staff.