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Search starts for new Land Rover dealer as RMA exits

The RMA Motors dealership in Westlands. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG
The RMA Motors dealership in Westlands. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG 

The local holder of the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) dealership RMA Group is set to exit the Kenyan market in a move that has seen rival dealers bid for the right to sell the luxury cars.

Thailand-based RMA took over the JLR franchise in 2013, replacing CMC Holdings, which had held the dealership for decades.

Sources told the Business Daily that RMA had decided to exit the local market, putting the franchise in play. Coventry (UK)-based JLR, through its South Africa office, is expected to have picked RMA’s replacement by June.

The new dealer will inherit the most valuable and fastest-selling portfolio of luxury cars including Ranger Rover and Jaguar models.

RMA sold 92 units of JLR models last year, the most among high-end car dealers and representing 38.3 per cent of the entire 240 units sold in the segment, according to data from Kenya Motor Industry Association (KMI).

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RMA is currently offering a rare discount on Land Rover models amid the franchise succession talks.

The exit of RMA continues the musical chairs seen in Kenya’s new vehicle market where automakers are constantly reviewing their existing franchisees.

The churn, for instance, saw DT Dobie take over the Volkswagen dealership from CMC #ticker:CMC, DT Dobie lose Nissan franchise to Crown Motors and General Motors terminate Isuzu East Africa’s sale of Chevrolet cars.

Luxury car dealers are currently grappling with reduced orders in a slump that has also hit the broader market including sale of trucks and buses.

Demand for high-end cars fell 15.7 per cent last year, with BMW being the only luxury brand to register higher sales.

Dealers sold 240 units in the review period, down from 285 units in 2016. This is the second time sales have declined after peaking at 409 units in 2015.

Luxury car sales performed relatively better compared to the broader new vehicle market, which reported a 20.3 per cent sales dip to 11,044 units last year in what was partly blamed on a weaker economy.

Orders for the luxury car brands including Porsche, Mercedes, and Land Rover all went down with the exception of BMW.

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