We discuss 2016 sales success and look ahead to 2017 with Mazda UK Sales Director Peter Allibon

Mazda UK records 2.4 per cent year-on-year sales growth in 2016

In a UK market that is up by 2 per cent, Mazda achieved year-on-year UK sales increase of 2.4 per cent in 2016. Impressively, retail sales increased by 10 per cent in a UK market where total retail sales grew by 2 per cent. Here we talk to Mazda UK Sales Director Peter Allibon about his thoughts on 2016 and the year ahead…

Mazda Directors 21.3.16 © Michael Bailie-9757

Are you pleased with the overall sales performance in 2016?

Yes I am pleased with the sales performance in 2016. To have year-over- year growth marginally ahead of the industry is encouraging. Mazda has significantly outgrown the market in the past three years and the 2016 plan was to hold close to 2015 levels while we turned much of our focus on improving the customer experience at every touch point with Mazda and our network.

What are your thoughts on the UK market as a whole in 2016?

Going into the year I think many manufacturers planned their volumes quite aggressively based on a successful 2015 and a relatively strong pound providing opportunity for importers. The uncertainties going into the referendum and then the immediate impact on exchange rates following the leave vote created some challenges for many manufacturers through the second half of the year.  While the industry total registrations suggest that there hasn’t been any negative consequences, the uncertainties among consumers and businesses have not had a positive effect on natural demand.  With production committed, most manufacturers have maintained the aggressive volume plans they originally set out with, but perhaps the channel mix is not quite how it was originally envisaged.  This is reflected in the industry stats whereby the year-over-year industry growth has come from the fleet channels, rather than retail.  It will be interesting to see how overall dealer network profitability has fared once the figures are released.

Mazda’s retail sales improvement is particularly impressive what factors contributed to this?

Mazda has always maintained a very strong retail mix, typically ranging from between 60 and 70 percent.  This is driven by strong and well-positioned finance led consumer offers. Mazda’s products and brand appeals to retail buyers looking for attractive, well-engineered cars that are great to drive, stylish and offer something different to the mainstream. With a six car line-up – five of our car lines have seen growth in retail sales, with the biggest contributors to this progression being our CX-3, CX-5 and MX-5 models.  The B-SUV and C-SUV segments have both seen growth in recent years and we have two fine propositions to tap into that opportunity.  Year-over-year the CX-3 also benefitted from having a full year of sales versus half a year in 2015.  The CX-5 being in its fourth year continues to go from strength to strength, still winning awards in its segment and getting rave reviews all around the world.  That’s probably why it’s the bestselling Mazda globally.  The latest MX-5 has maintained the lightweight, rear-wheel drive, two-seater sports car DNA that has won the hearts of people the world over so it’s no wonder that the new car is outselling its predecessor.

What are your personal highlights from 2016?

My personal highlight for 2016 was hosting our entire network over 4 days at our new offices in Dartford back in January. This event launched our customer experience programme Challengers@Retail to the senior management of our dealer partners and was the start of a journey of marked improvement across the board.  Throughout the year we have been through three phases of our Challengers journey and each one has been embraced and learnings applied back in the business, leading to a significant improvement in consumer satisfaction and promoter scores.

Moving onto the year ahead, the SMMT predicts a small slowing of the UK car market what are your thoughts for the year ahead?

I think it is prudent to expect a decline in the overall market, as the impacts of Brexit unfold and the uncertainties of how consumer confidence will fare in the short to medium term.  Throughout all of this, the strength of the Pound will be critical and with that in mind we are taking a sensible view on our overall volume plan for 2017 with a view of maximising profitable sales for ourselves and our network.

With the launch of the all-new Mazda MX-5 RF and all-new Mazda CX-5 coming this year what are your expectations for these new models?

The all-new Mazda MX-5 RF’s arrival is eagerly awaited.  UK consumers love automated retractable hard roof cars that give you the best of both worlds and the stunning new Retractable Fastback is a totally unique take on this concept.  We anticipate that overall sales of MX-5 will almost double and 70-80 percent of sales will be the RF.  The all-new CX-5 arrives a little later in the year and looks absolutely stunning.  With the outgoing model still in such high demand, it really has the opportunity to use the reputation of the outgoing car to take over the baton and continue that success.  Due to global demand for the CX-5, the volumes we’ll deliver will be determined by the production we can secure from the factory and so the volume growth over the current model is tamed a little.


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