But, he adds, it will take many years for the company to build up its sales penetration. This year Mazda expects to sell 27,000 units, up almost 90 per cent on last year's disappointing 14,259 sales, but still down on the 31,000 sold in 1997.
Analysts believe the messy and protracted changeover from previous UK importer MCL Group to the new Mazda Motors UK was to blame for the sales slump due to demotivated staff.
Cootes, though, will not be drawn over the issue of MCL. “We are very happy with the performance in the UK and the way the new distribution team has turned it around,” he says. “We have products like the MX-5 and 6 that are among the best in class and we expect long-term growth. Our UK market share has already doubled since our own sales operation was established.”
Mazda Motors UK has been able to secure 2000 more Mazda 6 , out of a total of 12,500 additional models being sent to Europe, to satisfy unexpectedly high demand. It will take the number sold in the UK this year to 6000 units.
Cootes says it is “good for image” to have cars that are in demand, but he is wary of upsetting residual values and recognises the need for balance.