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Toyota Jamaica expanding uptown

Published:Friday | January 30, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Tameka Gordon, Business Reporter

Toyota Jamaica Limited will invest $400 million to construct a new sales and service centre at Old Hope Road in Kingston, on the heels of a US$1.5-million (J$170m) investment to grow its Spanish Town Road headquarters last year.

Construction begins next week. Real estate developers Matalon Homes has been hired for the job which is expected to be completed in 12 months.

"It starts in earnest on Monday, and will provide 100 jobs during the construction," said Toyota Jamaica's managing director, Tom Connor. The company will add 40 workers to its staff to serve the new location.

The new 26,000-square-foot location will be a full parts, service and sales facility with 18 service bays, primarily aimed at meeting the demand of existing customers, Connor said.

Improved after-sales service

The focus for the Spanish Town Road and Old Hope Road locations is after-sales service, the MD, said adding that TJAM hopes to improve the quality of its after-sales service with the new addition.

"The decision to construct this branch came after listening to the voices of our customers. The people in the uptown area said to get to Spanish Town Road is too difficult and is very time-consuming," he said.

"We envisage doing a lot of service work here."

Toyota Jamaica is a subsidiary of Toyota Tsusho Corporation. The Toyota brand is the most popular of any make in Jamaica, based on import data. In 2013, the Toyota brand alone accounted for a third of imports - totally more than 7,200 of the 20,000-plus vehicle import permits approved by the Trade Board.

Not all of that activity was linked to Toyota Jamaica, however, as the data also included second-hand car imports by used car dealers. But the Japanese-owned company, which is classified as a new car dealer, has claimed 40 per cent of the market.

Toyota Jamaica will have three locations once the Old Hope Road operation launches. The company opened its Montego Bay operation two years ago, "which has been a great success," Connor added.

Lack of parking space

Last year, TJAM spent US$1.5 million to acquire two acres of land adjoining it headquarters and prepare the added space for its expanded operations.

"Our challenge before was lack of parking space. We had plenty of workshop space but not enough parking space. So now that we have the extra parking area, we can actually look to fill the workshop to capacity," the managing director said.

The expansion also allowed the company to extend its body shop operations.

In March, the headquarters will add specialised truck bodies, such as refrigerated bodies, to its product offerings. Commercial trucks and forklifts have already been added, facilitated by the expansion, Connor said.

On the heels of the Kingston project, the company plans to refocus once again on Montego Bay to expand the workshops and build a showroom, Connor said.

"All this is actually happening in a declining market for vehicle sales in Jamaica, but Toyota is committed to the local vehicle market," he said.