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IM Group looks to China to expand UK operations

The new managing director of International Motors Group has outlined plans to import a Chinese car into the UK market - and also ruled out the possibility of a diesel engine in the Subaru range.

Peter Kinnaird, who officially takes over as managing director of Subaru (UK) Limited and Isuzu (UK) Limited from December 1 as part of a restructuring of the business, says: “As the UK distributor for Subaru, Isuzu and Daihatsu vehicles the restructuring will put us in a very good position to expand our operations. We are now in a good position to add another make to our business operations and in the next three to four years we hope to become the importer of a Chinese brand of passenger cars in to the UK". He explained that any Chinese car would first be imported into mainland Europe before being introduced in this country.

Kinnaird said no final decision as to which Chinese company would be supplying I.M. Group with vehicles had yet been made.

By the end of this year Kinnaird said Subaru will have 90 UK dealers and this will grow to 120 dealerships within the next 18 months. Ninety -per cent of these dealers currently hold the Subaru and Isuzu franchises. In addition IM Group have 110 Daihatsu dealerships in the UK.

He added, "This year UK sales of Subaru models will be around the 9,250 mark and this will increase to approximately 11,000 units in 2005. Isuzu sales this year will be 2,500 units and this will increase to 4,000 next year".

"We will be taking a more aggressive marketing stance with Subaru to make it a front of mind brand. Motorsport success gives the brand engineering credibility but it does not penetrate outside a certain peer group of potential customers," said Kinnaird.

He also added, "There are no plans to introduce a diesel engine to any model in the Subaru range for the UK market, I’m not worried about that sector. We have such a unique model proposition, it’s a classic, and that platform gives us enough scope for growth. We cannot be all things to all men".

As part of the senior management reorganisation within the group Andrew Edmiston, the 35-year-old son of the founder, has been promoted to the position of managing director IM Group.

Kinnaird confirmed Edmiston will now ‘shadow’ his father for the next couple of years before taking over the role of chairman leaving his father more time to concentrate on his special interests with religious and schooling charities.



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