The new distributor, Kia Motors UK, will be headed by chief executive officer CK Lee, who oversaw the changeover. He is now looking for a new managing director. Quinn, MD since 1997, says the decision to leave was a personal one, but he believed it was the “right thing” to do for Kia to continue forward. He plans to take a few months off before considering future options.
“Flexibility, strength, commitment and individuality has allowed Kia to punch well above its weight. I expect this trend to continue under the new ownership,” Quinn says. Lee believes Kia will be given additional support from the Korean head office to plan and invest in the brand as it targets a one per cent share of the UK market by 2004.
The company has enjoyed three consecutive record sales years, retailing 12,183 units in 2001 (0.5 per cent share), although sales to July have slipped by 8.15 per cent to 6540.
“Kia cars will become a more regular sight on UK roads over the coming years - it's a very exciting and opportune time for Kia and its dealer network,” says Lee. “Our range is stronger than ever and new products like the Carens turbodiesel mini-MPV and Sorento SUV will give Kia access to new, exciting and fast-growing market segments.”
Kia paid an undisclosed amount to MCL Group, which is 40 per cent owned by Inchcape and 60 per cent by Itochu.
MCL has now lost the Kia and Mazda import businesses in the space of a year, but says it intends to focus on three areas: business services (including IT and parts logistics), automotive retailing and financial services. It is looking to expand the Autolink car supermarket network, which currently stands at four outlets: Maidstone, Leicester, Southampton and Chingford.