David Aziz, CEO-Automotive Products, Mohsin Haider Darwish is confident that the company’s new facility for Jaguar Land Rover will lead to a quantum leap in customer service and satisfaction. Mayank Singh reports
This is a part of what we have been trying to do over the last few years. This started in Salalah where we have a 3S facility along with the Arch concept which was executed last year. The design reflects the quality and workmanship of the new generation of Jaguar Land Rover vehicles. As Jaguar Land Rover cars get more sophisticated, developed and advanced, we needed to ensure that our facility reflects this fresh sensibility, providing customers with a special experience when it comes to sales, after sales service and the body shop. We are spending close to $10mn on the new facility. The front office is being done in stage one. Stage two will follow soon, with a full revamp of our workshops, installation of the latest equipment, body shop tools and machines to comply with the aluminum bodies of the vehicles. These facilities will be fitted with AC systems which is something new for our workshop and body shop. The stage one is finalised, while we expect stage two and three to be completed by the middle of 2019. There are future plans for developing our other facilities too. For example, our facility at Azaiba has got a facelift, while Volvo has the latest state-of-the-art showroom.
What can customers expect once the new facility is up and running?
They can rest assured that we will provide them with a very exclusive after-sales facility when it comes to service and parts, more comfortable handover and speedy collection in terms of service, backed up with a full experienced team to diagnose and rectify any issues with a vehicle. In the sales department, we will provide an exclusive buying experience, including a lavish customer waiting area, an area for finalising and concluding deals with digital screens and tools, allowing the customer to have a full view of how his vehicle will look. At the reception, there will be a very luxurious customer waiting area with TVs, refreshments and a host of entertainment options.
MHD auto business is also going through a process of consolidation. Can you share details of this process?
We have made some internal mergers in the automotive business where we feel that the expertise and facilities including storage areas will benefit the overall business. This has started giving fruitful results and we will continue at a very speedy pace. We started in early March and things are already much better. We are sharing our human capital, logistics and administration prowess and this has enabled us to make a lot of savings. Mergers give you more control, help to reduce expense and we have continued to do that in the group.
Which are the brands that you will be looking after the consolidation under the automotive business?
We currently represent Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo, MG. In the commercial vehicle space we have trucks and commercial vehicles. In addition, we have our own approved used cars division.
Which are the new models that customers can look forward to this year?
Jaguar Land Rover continues on its promise of introducing new models every six months. We have recently launched LR4 and LR5, Range Rover Vogue and the Range Rover Sport with a facelift and it has met with a tremendous response. Prior to that we launched the Discovery. We launched the all new Range Rover Velar which is a whole new category. The Range Rover Evoque has undergone a facelift and a complete modernisation for 2018. We have introduced the SV category in the Range Rover segment and this is a very high and prestigious range of vehicles specially tailor-made for a select cross section of customers. These vehicles take a longer period of time to be produced due to the detailing and other special equipment that is provided in it.
In Jaguar, we have launched the F-PACE followed by the E-PACE and will continue developing the full range of vehicles like the XJ, XF, XE and the F-TYPE.
Tell us something about Range Rover’s SV Coupe?
The SV Coupe or the Trinity project is an exclusive product with a limited edition production of only 999 vehicles globally. These vehicles will be designed only through special invitations and not through the regular ordering systems and it will be on a first-come-first- serve basis. These vehicles will be very unique in their design and they will be tailored as per a customer’s requirements. It will be a one-off production that will not be replicated later. They will be fitted with a very powerful five-litre supercharged engine. Customers will have a choice of choosing from a vast selection of colours, leather trims and bespoke of their choice.
How was business in 2017 and the beginning of 2018?
The year 2017 proved to be one of the most challenging years in business for the automotive industry in Oman. It was difficult as market sentiment was down due to a number of reasons like low oil prices, subdued global cues etc. However 2018 has proven to be very successful for us. In the first quarter of 2018, we have delivered on targets that we were aiming for and it has continued to be quite fruitful. We have a strong order base and in return we will continue to invest in our facilities, manpower, technical expertise and our logistics strength.
When it comes to Volvo, we have newly designed Volvos like the XC90 earlier and now the XC60. The saloon S90 has had a major revamp. Volvo cars are driven by powerful and economical engines along with beautiful colours and designs. Our volumes have increased, backed up by safety features and innovation, for which Volvo has always been a market leader. When it comes to the MG brand, the new SUV models have been introduced. In 2017 we launched the MG360 and this year we have launched the MG ZS and the MG5. The idea of MG is to cater to the young and trendy segment, so both the MG ZS and MG RX5 are cross over models starting from 1.5 litre to 2 litre engines. This year has been very good for MG thanks to the new models and we are looking very positively to the months ahead.
After the consolidation, you have various brands under MHD automotive. How are you going to segment them?
We have different facilities for each of these. For example, the facility at Azaiba 1, will be exclusively for Jaguar Land Rover. The facility at Azaiba 2 has been developed exclusively for MG and Volvo. Both of these are going to be 3S facilities, while in Salalah we have separate showrooms for these brands and we are trying to do the same in Sohar. We have a major presence in Muscat, Sohar and Salalah and are looking at new facilities in the near future.
You are bringing in electric vehicles into Oman. Does this segment look promising for Oman?
Absolutely. This year there are far more queries, more interests and research from customers on electric vehicles. Companies such as Volvo are very keen that by year 2020 their electric vehicles should be available everywhere. Our facility at Azaiba is already fitted with tools and gadgets for electric vehicles when they come into the country. I am confident that this segment is going to see a very serious growth in the next two to three years.