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Aussie expansion for Rolls-Royce

Rolling into town: A Rolls-Royce dealership in Perth will open next year and the iconic British luxury brand is weighing up options for Brisbane or the Gold Coast in Queensland.

Rolls-Royce planning to open new dealerships in WA and Queensland next year

15 Nov 2012

ROLLS-ROYCE is eyeing dealer network – and sales volume – expansion in Australia as the revised Phantom Series II flagship model hits existing local showrooms operated by Trivett in Melbourne and Sydney.

Mining boom states Western Australia and Queensland have been earmarked for what will represent a doubling of the iconic BMW-owned British uber-luxury brand’s presence in this country by the end of next year.

Rolls-Royce Asia Pacific regional director Paul Harris told GoAuto the Australian market had always been held in high regard with the company, as ties went back to 1908 when the first distributor opened in Melbourne.

“Australia is good but we do see further potential,” said Mr Harris.

“Part of our opportunity here is capped a little by our presence only in Melbourne and Sydney,” he said.

“We do have customers with Rolls-Royces in Western Australia and Queensland and we see further potential to have more customers there.” Perth will get the WA Rolls-Royce dealership, while Brisbane and the Gold Coast are both being considered for Queensland representation – and the company aims to have finalise agreements for the new retail openings by the end of the first quarter of 2013.

 center imageLeft: Rolls-Royce Asia Pacific regional director Paul Harris.

Mr Harris said potential customers in WA and Queensland had expressed reluctance to buy a car without the support of a local dealer.

“They basically said to us, ‘we are interested in a Rolls-Royce but we want to be backed up by a fully understanding dealer before we make that investment’,” Mr Harris said.

One of the reasons for this is that Australia comes high on the global list for the amount of bespoke customisation work specified on Rolls-Royce cars.

Renovations to Trivett’s Melbourne Rolls-Royce showroom have been completed in time for the arrival of the Phantom Series II.

It now features a customer lounge with samples of available colour and material combinations in recognition of the increasing number of requests for bespoke work.

Rolls-Royce Asia Pacific sales and marketing general manager Daniel Balmer described the lounge as “ a quiet place to consider the options”, explaining that the area formed part of the company’s global standard for showrooms that is half-way through being rolled out across the 90 dealers world-wide.

Mr Balmer said customers had flown from WA and Queensland to view and purchase cars in Sydney or Melbourne when the smaller Ghost model was launched two years ago – and has gone on to become the top-selling Rolls-Royce in Australia.

“If they are doing that there is going to be a market for them in those locations as well,” he said.

“I am confident that by being there (WA and Queensland) we will sell a bit more, grow our business and our interest (in the brand).” He said the Ghost’s wider appeal and subsequent sales boost for the brand justified the expansion.

“When we first re-launched the brand with Phantom (in 2003) it probably wasn’t big enough a market, but with Ghost now we see opportunities for us so we will see more numbers in those areas,” he said.

“There will still be a good strength here in Melbourne and Sydney for our cars as well, but I would say in future we will have expansion within our product line and a different market share.” He agreed the mining boom “adds weight to the discussion” about expanding Australia’s Rolls-Royce dealer network, but said the company “always had our eyes on those areas”.

“It is not necessarily about being there for the boom time it is about putting ourselves out there,” he said.

“I have spoken to many customers and they have said ‘you have got to be here otherwise I won’t buy the car from you yes you have a showroom down in Sydney, you can service my care here via an operator but I want to be able to negotiate with and speak to a salesman locally and see your range in a showroom locally otherwise I won’t buy a car’.” Mr Harris stopped short of mentioning which businesses were in the running to operate the two new dealerships, but said Perth-based sports and luxury specialist Barbagallo was well-respected, as was Neville Crichton, who distributes Ferraris and Maseratis in Australia and New Zealand through his European Automotive Imports business.

Rolls-Royce has sold 15 cars in Australia year-to-date, compared with 19 last year, but Mr Harris put this down to the arrival of the Phantom Series II.

“With the Phantom Series II only just arriving here, we effectively had a product stop on Phantom for a period of time, so that does affect our overall sales,” he said.

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