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Mon 29 Mar 2010 07:15 AM

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Downturn has 'changed UAE car market forever'

Al Futtaim Motors exec says car sales firms will have to revamp strategies for growth.

Downturn has 'changed UAE car market forever'
CAR SALES: The UAE car market will never be the same again following the downturn, Simon Frith has said. (Getty Images)

Car sales firms in the UAE will have to revamp their strategies on the back of a downturn in 2009 that has changed the industry forever, one of the sector’s most prominent businessmen has warned.

“Like all the other companies in the country, we got half-way through December 2008 and the shutters just came down - as a result, the car market will never be the same again,” Al Futtaim Motors managing director Simon Frith told Arabian Business.

“Many auto businesses here, us included, were business receivers – we had an avalanche of customers approaching us for sales and aftersales. But that has gone forever, we are convinced about that.”

As part of its strategy to put an emphasis on retaining customer loyalty, Al Futtaim Motors is planning to launch four new service centres in Dubai, with two to be delivered during the course of this year.

The company will also open a service, sales and parts dealership in Mussafah at the end of March, and plans to put its flagship dealership – a collaboration with developer Aldar – into Abu Dhabi towards the end of next year.

Frith said that estimates on how far the UAE’s car market dropped in 2009 in terms of sales varied at between minus 30-40 percent

The executive explained that of every ten cars sold in the UAE, three are sold by Al Futtaim Motors. One of the company’s targets for 2010 is to raise that ratio to four in ten.

“In terms of trends in the market, the small car segment is starting to grow and competition there is tough as everyone has some good product,” Frith added.

“Yaris has been a strong seller in that market, and it has some revisions being made to it at the moment; it’s not about delivering the cheapest car, it’s about delivering value for money.”

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ahmed 10 years ago

good to hear some frank confessions, instead of being in the denial...it will help in the long run

Usman 10 years ago

I remember walking in to an Al Futtaim Toyota showroom on Airport Rd Dxb, and the sales person over there just couldnt be bothered to talk to you, arrogant and rude. Its good the market has changed and hopefully Al Futtaim will come to senses otherwise it will have to close its shutters for good aswell.

Christian 10 years ago

Service is in th people and not in the buiding. I was buying a new car was interested in the new FJ Cruiser. 5 Yes 5 staff wher more interested on in teh phone than a buyer in the showroom. I was there with my wife and waited and looked at teh car for 35 Minutes nobody was interested. Went to Mithsibutshi and bought a new car 10 Times betetr service and could do a full opetion for teh same money. Listen what ever you sell its one thing and one thing only SERVICE. Our second car is a Mecedes why SERVICE would love to have a Porsche but again no service its cookie cutter service (Minimum)not personalized and they are least bothered at least they keep the other garages running if you where so unfortunaly to buy from one of these places with bad or no service

Toyotalover 10 years ago

I fully agree with the comments of Mr. usman. I too walked into their showroom in abu dhabi and had the same treatment. The sales people were least bothered when we walk into their showrooms to get some information on the models. It seems they learned a lesson the hard way. They should have understood that it is the brand name that is fetching customers not the arrogant and rude sales personnel sitting there. They should definitely revamp their customer care and relations. I still drive a toyota beacuse of its reliability eventhough a BMW is my dream.

Mark Byford 10 years ago

Do we really have to buy that coveted BMW or Mercedes especially in such times when the unexpected is just round the corner following us stealthily and waiting in ambush? I have settled for a second hand car in a great condition and at a very reasonable price and saved sweet thousands in the process. Such times call for some common sense.

DZ 10 years ago

100% agree! Toyota might be my first choice in UAE, but I bought Mistubishi just because I did not feel welcomed in their (Toyota) showroom at all. I am quite happy by the way, so good-bye Toyota! Good luck with your floor mats.

Abdul Baqi 10 years ago

Yes i agree with other comments i think Insah Allah i am going to buy Mitsubishi then Toyota and Honda ,though Honda showroom staff is well cooperative then even Mitsubishi,Mitsubishi cars having almost same technology as in Honda but value fro money and service i heard is good.let see.

khalid 10 years ago

In 2008 when my company was expanding, we had to purchase 4 new vehicles for our sales and marketing staff. The choice was 1 camry, 1 corolla and 2 yaris. But when visiting the showroom in dubai and sharjah, I felt like I was begging for their attention. When I asked their salesman, why was I not treated as a potential buying customer, his answer ‘’ only 4 cars? ‘’ Anyways crossed the road and paid 250k to their competitor for 4new cars. I still think Toyota is better, but I could not accept this behaviour. kahid bu waleed

Neil 10 years ago

Yep, I did the same, looked at the cars in the showroom and all the sales staff looked at their feet!

surfer 10 years ago

Just to raise another customer observation with my JEEP Wrangler. The service support is utterly dismal and I dread each time having to go on the huge mission to get my car serviced. They take a whole day to service the car and 2 days for a major service (and the customer just has to make his own arrangements to gete around to and from work etc). I have had many cars in the Western world and never have I been without a car for a service for even one day. You have to trek to Mussafah to try find the service centre through the maze of streets or pay to have your car taken there and have to drop it off with them on the Corniche. Jeep will need to start looking after their exising customers now as the good times are over. I want to have my car fetched and delivered while I am at work for a service as I do not have time to waste and to face inconvenience (and I wil, pay for that) not have a huge mission to get it serviced. I am starting to be attracted to using other local Abu Dhabi island service centres rather than Jeep who have made it as inconvenient as possible. The car is great and I am happy with that, but the after sales service sux Jeep lover, JEEP Abu Dhabi hater..