Jebsen adds two more carmakers to portfolio

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 February, 2012, 12:00am


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Jebsen, distributor for more than a hundred premium brands in China, will finalise deals in coming weeks that will see it add two carmakers to its mainland brand portfolio.

Despite a slowing economy and falling property prices, the group remained optimistic about prospects for the mainland's car sales, said Mark Bishop, Jebsen director and head of its luxury goods division.

Bishop forecast 'modest' car-sales growth of 10 per cent for Porsche in 2012, following a remarkable 29.41 per cent growth in sales last year, when Jebsen sold 6,600 Porsches in Hong Kong, the mainland and Macau, up from 5,100 in 2010.

Total passenger car sales on the mainland dropped 24 per cent year on year last month, but Bishop said that although industry-wide sales were declining, the luxury segment was so far unaffected by the downturn. 'I still look forward to 2012 with confidence for growth,' he said.

Jebsen is Porsche's largest trading house in China, but a rapid expansion of rival dealerships by Porsche in recent years meant Jebsen's contribution to total Porsche sales in China was shrinking. 'We need to diversify a little from Porsche,' Bishop said. The two car brands Jebsen is adding to its portfolio are European.

Europe's biggest carmaker, Volkswagen - which has a production base on the mainland through a joint venture with First Automobile Works - is in the course of taking over Porsche, likely to be completed this year.

Jebsen, which has Porsche dealerships in five big mainland cities, plans to boost its presence there as a number of new product launches - including the much-anticipated SUV Cajun - are expected to boost sales.

'We will open two new dealerships this year, one in northeast Beijing in April and a third one in Shanghai, which will be the biggest Porsche centre on the mainland,' Bishop said. 'Next year we will open another dealership in Hangzhou and one in Shenzhen.'

While analysts warn of a slowing economy on the mainland, and January retail sales recorded the first monthly decline in three years, Bishop expected domestic consumption to remain strong, since exports were languishing and officials were keen to promote home consumption.

In Hong Kong retailers are concerned as jewellery and watch sellers rush to open shops in Central and Causeway Bay despite a slowing growth of mainland tourists and lower sales of big ticket items.

But Bishop said he did not see much impact on luxury brands represented by Jebsen, and if sales of top brands such as Rolex slowed, this could provide a gap for their medium-priced watch Raymond Weil to step in. 'In the next few years there is going to be a huge growth in the middle class in China, and that's music to my ears because these are the people who are moving into the segments where we will sell products.'

Jebsen, which also distributes a number of medium-priced wine brands in China, expects its watch business to triple by next year.