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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
If Toyota has become synonymous with ALJ Group, then Lexus has extended that relationship. When the Lexus LS 400 made its debut in 1989, ALJ launched it in Saudi Arabia. Within a matter of months, ALJ took Lexus sales overseas, expanding into Syria, Monaco, Germany and Japan, followed by the UK and China.
Around this time, ALJ earned the distinction of becoming the first foreign distributor of Lexus cars to enter Japan’s domestic market. Responding to an invitation from Toyota Motors Corporation, in April 2006, Mohammad Jameel opened a sales center in Tokyo. Toyota maintained that the privilege was extended to ALJ in recognition of its outstanding record in the sales of the brand, both in the Kingdom and elsewhere. Since Toyota and Lexus come from the same family, capturing the mass market with Toyota and then introducing Lexus worked perfectly for the two companies.
Some innovation helped, too. ALJ began running 24/7 service centers in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s. And the results of such efforts were on display at the 2007 Lexus LS460 launch in Saudi Arabia, when Saleh al-Jasser, then executive director at ALJ, announced that Toyota had captured more than a third of Saudi Arabia’s car market. “Lexus has been the number-one-selling luxury car in Saudi Arabia since 1998,” he said, adding that the company’s sales continued to grow by 7 percent a year.
Company representatives are reluctant to discuss the Group’s future direction. “We have plans and strategies, but we don’t want to talk about it now,” muttered one senior official. “I am not allowed to talk about the company’s journey and future plans,” said another. Whosoever is allowed to do that could not be reached for this story.