By Kap Maceda Aguila
LAST May, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Philippines closed shop.
As explained by its dealer principals then, the shuttering was in anticipation of the country’s expanded excise tax for new vehicles widely expected to result in the significant price spike of new cars — particularly for more premium marques, as in the case of Jaguar and Land Rover — making it a tougher task to compete in the industry.
The year isn’t quite done yet, and JLR principals obviously begged to differ. They have not lost time in reestablishing the twin British vehicle brands owned by Mumbai-based Tata Motors since acquiring it from Ford in 2008. On Nov. 24, executives from JLR Asia Pacific Importers signed a deal that appointed Coventry Motors Corp. (CMC), as “the official Jaguar Land Rover importers for the Philippine market with immediate effect.”
JLR Asia Pacific managing director Robin Colgan said at the Manila Golf Club in Makati City that “[the] partnership brings about a new chapter in the history of Jaguar Land Rover in the country and presents us with another opportunity to reinforce our strong performance and position in the premium car segment.” Mr. Colgan further noted at the formal announcement of the appointment that the 6.9% GDP growth recently registered by the country — even outpacing the rate of China — is “a clear indication that this is a market that holds remarkable promise and potential for quality premium cars that will meet the needs of a sophisticated and developed consumer base.”
Replying to a question from this writer, the executive narrated that “it was a very easy decision” to have chosen CMC as JLR’s local partner, describing the company as being “head and shoulders above many other candidates… [displaying] a really deep understanding of the premium customer in the Philippines — their expectations in terms of service and facilities, and overall customer experience.”
Although established just this year, CMC represents considerable experience as it is helmed by business veterans George T. Barcelon and Gerardo F. Alejandro (chairman and president, respectively). This is expected to put the firm in prime position to further develop the JLR brand.
“Coventry Motors is committed to solidifying Jaguar Land Rover’s strong brand presence in the Philippines and catering to the needs of its loyal customers,” declared CMC in a news release. For his part, Mr. Colgan added, “We strongly believe in (CMC’s) capability to make incredible headway in growing the Jaguar and Land Rover brands and market share in the Philippines. George and Gerry’s management expertise and industry experience give us the confidence to re-ignite the excitement and clamor for the Jaguar Land Rover brand in the market.”
The two entities have also aligned on what JLR considers of utmost importance. “The selling part is not our biggest challenge,” said Mr. Colgan. “Our biggest challenge is making sure that we have the right team of technicians, after-sales people. We have the right parts, stocking, diagnostic equipment, and tools. That’s a huge priority… The team of Coventry Motors came to us with exactly the same set of priorities.” The executive also promised that CMC will accommodate for servicing all previously bought JLR units.
Currently headquartered at 1010 EDSA Philippines, CMC is preparing to open its first dealership within the first quarter of next year.