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Ride to fame
The Abdul Latif Jameel Group, long a force to be reckoned with in the region’s auto dealership industry, is making considerable inroads farther afield, reports Trends magazine.
March 17, 2009 10:16 by Ehtesham Shahid
The group has evolved a lot over the years, beginning with a push to diversify in 1969. That was when real estate and consumer finance entered its portfolio, followed by general trading in the 1970s. In 1979, the company launched consumer finance products through United Installment Sales (UIS). Abdul Latif Jameel Co. Ltd., the lead management company of the Group, was established in 1980. However, in the early 1980s ALJ redefined itself, choosing to refocus on its core services – automobiles and consumer financing. Today, its workforce of 10,500 in Saudi Arabia is spread across the real estate, financing, consumer electronics and logistics sectors.
The region’s automobile industry may have changed significantly since 1955, but the relationship between ALJ and Toyota has flourished. In 2007, Saudi Arabia ranked as the seventh-largest market for Toyota, which has 52 production plants around the world and manufactured 9.4 million vehicles that year. The Toyota-ALJ relationship ex-panded to Syria, Morocco and Algeria. The group then became part of Toyota’s international dealings in China, Monte Carlo (Monaco), Germany and the UK. In 1990, the company’s marketing base expanded in Europe after ALJ acquired major British dealer Hartwell.
In 2005, the Group and Toyota Motor Corporation marked 50 years of business ties. To mark the occasion Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel, son of the founder, president and chief executive officer of ALJ, shared a platform with Shoichiro Toyoda, the honorary chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation. “ALJ is now the largest independent distributor of Toyota cars in the world,” Jameel boasted. Toyoda, on the other hand, quoted a message from the chairman of Toyota’s board of directors: “While commending your sincere efforts, I am confident that our relations will get stronger in the next 50 years to come.”