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Stewart’s Auto taking over Land Rover, Jaguar dealerships

Published:Thursday | July 23, 2015 | 11:02 AMNeville Graham
A Land Rover Discovery
A Jaguar XKR

Stewart's Auto Sales Limited has snagged luxury dealerships formerly repre-sented by ATL Automotive, a division of the ATL Group, and will begin to sell the Jaguar and Land Rover brands as of September 1.

The ATL Autohaus showroom in New Kingston is selling out current stock at discounts of up to $1 million, with final delivery date of August 31. ATL represented the brands for five years from September 2010.

The new dealerships expands Stewart's Automotive Group luxury portfolio, which currently includes the popular BMW and Mercedes-Benz brands.

"We confidently embrace the opportunity to manage two of the most traditional and passionate brands in the hearts of many Jamaicans," Stewart's said.

Jaguar has a low-key market in Jamaica. In the past three years, Trade Board records indicate that just 48 units covering three models were imported into Jamaica. In the same period, Land Rover and Range Rover imports, which are more popular, totalled 132 units.

The top seller in the Land Rover range was the Freelander.

Adam Stewart, the CEO of ATL Group, says the Trade Board numbers understate market activity and that his company traded around 330 units of Land Rover alone. Stewart told the Financial Gleaner that he gave up the dealerships because he wanted to pursue other options that were more beneficial to the company's bottom line.

"Working with Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR) has been an enjoyable and exciting journey, but, ultimately, we've made this decision based on what is right for our company and to enable us to focus on our other brands, and where we believe the future of the automotive industry in Jamaica lies," Stewart said earlier in a release announcing the change of dealership.

"While we go our separate ways with a heavy heart, we are excited about the new opportunities that lie ahead," he said.

Regional JLR dealers do business through Interamericana Trading Corporation (ITC), a Cayman Islands-registered outfit owned by business mogul Sir Kyffin Simpson that represents multiple auto brands.

Stewart told the Financial Gleaner that ATL found the middleman structure costly and would have preferred to do business directly with the automakers - as the company does for the VW and Audi brands.

He said the company was pursuing prospective deals to take up the slack, with an eye on partnerships that do not require doing business through a middleman.

"While ITC is a great, well-run company, they have to make a margin. I made a strategic decision where I said that we only want to deal factory-direct - I find it more efficient," said the ATL Group CEO.

"All the other brands that we sell we deal factory-direct. I don't have a middle agent, which ultimately adds to costs and makes parts very expensive," he said.

ITC represents several brands, including Mercedes-Benz, Suzuki, Porsche and Rolls-Royce, which are distributed through more than 60 dealerships operating in 32 countries.

Stewart's Auto is the dealer for Mercedes-Benz and Suzuki in Jamaica and has done business with ITC for more than 30 years.

"ITC has a deep relationship with Stewart's. They are also distributors for Stewarts' bread-and-butter brand, Suzuki, and luxury brand Mercedes, which is sold locally by Silver Star Motors ... ," Stewart's Auto said.

The company will represent the brands under the masthead of Stewart Auto Gallery, which will be located at its South Camp Road complex in Kingston, where its showrooms for Suzuki, Mercedes and Mitsubishi already reside.

Recently, a newspaper advertise-ment invited expressions of interest in a dealership franchise for Porsche, which is currently unrepresented in Jamaica. Reliable sources say that ATL Autohaus has its eyes fixed on the German brand. Porsche is owned by Volkswagen AG, whose VW and Audi brands are already represented in Jamaica by ATL Autohaus.

However, Adam Stewart was noncommittal.

"I can't confirm Porsche, but you know that they are owned by the Volkswagen family," he said.

ATL has otherwise been pursuing new dealerships with potential suppliers for more than a year, said the ATL boss, who also told the Financial Gleaner that he is going after brands that suit Jamaican roads.

- A version of this story previously appeared online on Wednesday.