x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

BMW invests to meet rise in demand

BMW is to build a state of the art new showroom in the UAE for a cost of Dh300million

Graham Grieve, the global vice president of importer markets for BMW, which has seen increased demand for its cars nationwide.
Graham Grieve, the global vice president of importer markets for BMW, which has seen increased demand for its cars nationwide.

Demand for BMW cars in the Emirates has increased so much this year that dealerships across the country plan to invest Dh300 million (US$81.6m) building showrooms and repair shops.

The move comes after a 19 per cent rise in sales in the first quarter of the year.

"The UAE is a very significant market for us and has an eclectic mix of customers that are local and expat," said Graham Grieve, the vice president of importer markets for BMW globally. "The investment is not only important in terms of sales and performance, but also the type of business that we do."

The brand's X5 and X6 models are becoming increasingly popular as the economic recovery takes hold, Mr Grieve said.

He was in the UAE last night to attend the opening of a flagship showroom on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, built and financed by AGMC, the exclusive dealer for BMW, Rolls-Royce and Mini in Dubai, Sharjah and the Northern Emirates.

The Dh50m spent so far on the new showroom is part of the dealer's Dh80m expansion plan for this year.

"We are investing on many different levels to ensure we have the right facilities and staff to sell new and pre-owned cars," said Stathis I Stathis, the newly appointed managing director of Al Batha Automotive Group, AGMC's parent company.

A Mini showroom is expected to be launched in Media City by the end of the year. Although AGMC is making a hefty financial outlay, the company's investment is dwarfed by that of Abu Dhabi Motors, the exclusive dealer in the emirate, which is spending Dh220m on showrooms and maintenance facilities.

Abu Dhabi is BMW's fastest-growing market, with sales growth of 42 per cent in the first quarter. Dubai is up 38 per cent and Saudi Arabia 11 per cent.

Despite unrest across much of the region, BMW ended the first quarter of this year with a 19 per cent growth in sales.

"It would be very nice to see that growth continue through the year," Mr Grieve said. "Whether we succeed or not generally depends on how the political situation in the region develops. We have clearly been affected in some of our key areas like Syria, Bahrain and Lebanon, but we have still continued to see those very high growth rates."

A total of 4,635 BMW and Mini cars were delivered to customers across 14 markets in the region in the first quarter.

"Some of the business that we may have missed at the beginning of the year I hope we catch back," Mr Grieve said. "From an economic and social perspective, I hope we get back to stability very soon."

The BMW 5 Series was the company's best-selling model in the first quarter, followed by the flagship BMW 7 Series, the BMW X6 Sports Activity Coupe and the BMW 3 Series.

A new 6 Series Coupe is planned for the region in September, Mr Grieve said. BMW operates internationally with 24 production sites in 13 countries and a sales staff and representatives in more than 140 countries.

The BMW Group sold 1.46 million cars and more than 110,000 motorcycles worldwide during the last financial year.