M a r k e t N e w s

Nissan sets aside Sh1.3bn for new showrooms in Kenya

Posted on : Thursday, 4th December 2014

Nissan is set to open four new showrooms in major towns across the country in a Sh1.3 billion expansion plan which will also include opening of new service centres.

Crown Motors, which in August replaced DT Dobie as the Kenyan franchise holder of the Japanese vehicle brand, said it would open showrooms in Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret and Naivasha by the end of next year. The Mombasa showroom is set to open in two months, adding to the recently opened main Nissan showroom in Nairobi along Uhuru Highway and service centre along Mombasa Road.
The company also plans to hire sub-dealers in other towns as it races to widen its dealership network and match that of established rivals like Toyota and General Motors East Africa (GMEA).
“Kenya is an important market for us and we are happy with the ongoing investment in the Nissan brand,” Mr Takashi Hata, the chairman of Nissan Africa, told the Business Daily. Mr Hata added that Crown will only sell Nissan brands including pick-ups and cars in Kenya.
Terminate dealership
DT Dobie lost the Nissan franchise after Toyota acquired it, together with CICA Motors, in December 2012 as part of a Sh274.4 billion Pan-African deal involving their parent firm CFAO.
The deal spooked Nissan Motor Company, prompting it to terminate its dealership agreement with DT Dobie and appoint Crown Motors instead. Nissan South Africa CEO Mike Whitfield said the company has now replaced CFAO as the distributor of Nissan vehicles on the continent.
Crown is owned 51 per cent by South Africa’s AMH Group and 49 per cent by a consortium of local investors led by businessman Mohamed Zubedi. Mr Zubedi owns a car dealership in Dubai, besides a tyre distribution and logistics business in Kenya.
His cousin Ali Zubedi runs Transafrica Motors which sells FAW trucks and Honda cars in Kenya. The Crown Motors dealership expands the Zubedi family’s interest in the motor vehicle business. The start-up firm hired former DT Dobie executive Chris Angell as CEO, seeking to tap his extensive experience in the local auto business.
Popular models
AMH Group’s chief executive Manny De Canha said Crown would continue to focus on popular Nissan models like pick-ups and sports utility vehicles X-Trail and Patrol. Sales of the models, under DT Dobie, stood at 1,140 units last year and accounted for eight per cent of total new vehicles sold in the country.
Crown is set to inherit this market share and hopes to further raise it through introduction of newer models and the wider network. The firm is introducing modern versions of the Nissan Datsun model besides new releases of the X-Trail, Patrol, and Qashqai.
Nissan is one of the biggest brands in the local pick-up segment, competing with Toyota and Isuzu brands which are sold by GMEA. AMH had initially planned to form a joint venture with an existing dealer in Kenya to fast-track the transition of the Nissan franchise from DT Dobie.
It is unclear what led to the collapse of talks that saw the South African firm opt to start operations from scratch.

Source : businessdailyafrica.com
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