Rob Lindley, Mazda UK managing director, said: “It has a psychological impact on the company and the dealer network. Whilst we already know that we have exceeded 2% market share, the actual number of sales is especially important to us.
“When Mazda took over the UK from the previous distributor, MCL, in 2001, sales of Mazda vehicles in that year were just 15,000. The previous sales record set by MCL was 33,000. Dealers were always being promised 40,000 but we have actually delivered that number and beyond.
Lindley said a 2% market share will put Mazda in the ‘big league’, among the top 10 or 12 car makers in the UK and separate it from smaller brands.
He also said he did not see double digit annual sales growth in the future. Future growth, he added, would concentrate on making sure Mazda stays top of the class in the segments in which it operates, improving penetration into new segments and improving the return on investment for its dealers.
Lindley said: “We have not had an SUV since Tribute and that will change when we introduce the new CX-7 in the new year.”
Mazda now has 159 dealers with another seven joining the portfolio soon.
“What is important now is that the dealers make money. It has always been my intention that Mazda is in the top quarter of manufacturers for dealer profitability. That way Mazda UK can reasonably ask for a greater share of dealers’ future investment and management time.
“Last year (2005) was not good for motor retail in general and the Mazda franchise was not immune to this. In 2006, I am very pleased that average dealer profitability has improved four-fold and we are in the top quarter of the franchises in our competitive set.
“In 2006 the main drivers behind an improved dealer return on sales have been more used vehicle sales, increasing sales of higher margin new vehicles like the MX-5 and RX-8 and reductions in fixed overhead costs,” said Lindley.