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Factory-backed Ferrari on a roll

Update coming: Ferrari Australia will refurbish all of its local dealerships with a new premium look and feel.

Ferrari focusing on customer experience and dealer refresh in Australia

5 Dec 2013

FERRARI Australia’s shift from private distributor to factory-backed operation has improved the customer experience and strengthened the dealer network, according to Ferrari Australasia CEO Herbert Appleroth.

Australian distribution of the iconic Italian brand fell under auto entrepreneur Neville Crichton’s European Automotive Importers for seven years until it was taken over by Ferrari in April this year.

The take-over was part of a wider global strategy that saw the supercar-maker taking on distribution of its model line-up in a number of ‘mature markets’ including Japan.

Mr Appleroth was charged with taking the reins back in April after managing the Australian and New Zealand markets for Ferrari and Maserati between 1999 and 2005.

Mr Appleroth said the change in distributorship had meant a more direct relationship with buyers, dealers and the media, adding that the company was better placed to develop one-on-one relationships with customers.

“To be able to have the conversation and a relationship with each client is obviously very important, so we can now tailor events and experiences and tailor our cars to Australian customers more,” he said.

“An advantage is that normally you wouldn’t see cars in Australia within six months of a global launch. You are now seeing the 458 Speciale two months after launch. We are also creating events and launches which have never been done before.”

When Ferrari took over earlier in the year, Mr Appleroth said there would be more customer events such as track days, and he has made good on his promise with a doubling of these events in the past eight months.

Mr Appleroth also confirmed a “huge revamp” of Ferrari’s retail premises across Australia, with the company’s new corporate identity being rolled out to dealerships as a part of a redevelopment program that costs “in the millions”.

The refurbished dealerships will be designed to give customers a premium retail experience in the vein of brands like Hermes and Louis Vuitton, with Mr Appleroth saying a major focus would be on customisation.

“Each dealership will have its own atelier,” he said. “So there will be a specific area which is designed to ensure every Ferrari that comes to Australia is unique and as beautiful as it can be. The waiting area is what you would expect in a luxury boutique.”

Earlier this year, global Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo announced that the sportscar-maker’s tally of 7318 sales in 2012 was too high and that the company would look to reduce that number to maintain exclusivity.

Mr Appleroth said this exclusivity was one of Ferrari’s key strengths, and he was keen to see that grow through tighter control of branding and merchandise.

“I think we have a fine balance between exclusivity,” he said. “Certainly the reduction in volumes worldwide makes desirability grow because it is harder to get. We are controlling the merchandise side. We have 50 merchandise stores around the world.” “You think 15 to 20 years ago you would see Ferrari merchandise anywhere, in a Shell service station maybe. Whereas now we are able to control the luxury environment whether it’s buying a car or a T-shirt.” Locally, Mr Appleroth said dealer relations had strengthened since the take-over thanks to more direct communication and direct links to head office that allowed Australian dealers to attend an international gathering of Ferrari dealers in Italy last month.

“We are in constant contact,” he said. “They now have a direct link to the factory. Not that there was a problem with communication before, but if you reduce the number of ears and mouths the message has to go through.”

While Mr Appletoth said he was confident in the local dealer network, he said there was always room to grow and that any under-performing dealerships would be looked at closely, if required.

“We are constantly reviewing the network to make sure they are evolving with the changing demands of the client. There may be changes, there may not be.

“We prefer stability but we need strong partners who are willing to invest and willing to see the Ferrari way which is absolute customer delight at all expense. And we won’t stop. If it means we have to change partners, we will.”

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