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MAZDA

Mazda's move from niche to mainstream manufacturer continues but, so far at least, at the expense of sales. The company ended last year about 20% down and will rely on a facelifted 626 plus the new seven-seat MPV and Premacy five seater to lift sales this year. Both have received favourable early reports but lack character. Mazda is looking to up the number of dealerships but substantially cut the number of franchise owners to generate more profit on a per-company basis. Future profit potential is considered quite good though retained margins have fallen in the last 12 months. Overall, the franchise is a long way short of where it was five years ago when it was considered one of the most innovative and profitable in the industry but it does offer an opportunity for dealers wanting to expand corporate sales.

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