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Inchcape Philippines unveils 1.3-hectare facility borne out of mega-merger

ALEX Hammett (left) and Francis Jonathan Ang embody the mega partnership for Inchcape Philippines. | Photographs by MARC ANTHONY REYES for the Daily Tribune

CATS Group of Companies offices in Greenhills have been a landmark in Edsa for years. The luxury cars — primarily Mercedes Benzes — displayed on their giant glass windows provide daily commuters a glimpse of a good life.

It’s a big car company that its second-generation owner, Francis Jonathan Ang, described as something that had a very humble beginning.

His father, Felix Ang, started it as service center for Benzes before it grew to become a dealership and eventually a distributorship of the iconic German brand.

Now, by Francis’ own account, it has become much bigger. As in international-level big.

A year after partnering with Inchcape, the company acquired broader access worldwide. After all, Inchcape Philippines has 10 big brands under its umbrella that now also include Chinese brand Changan.

“I see it as the next phase of our development as a company,” Ang told the DAILY TRIBUNE Blast on Thursday on the occasion of its facility tour in its C5 headquarters.

“When you look at more advanced markets where Inchcape is participating, in Europe, they already created a solution in order to move forward. And that’s part and parcel of why they invested in Philippines.”

“To cater to what the industry is calling the omni-channel experience, gaining that from whichever platform you go to. Whether the physical or website or social media. Your experience with the brands remains to be the same. So that it’s not you who needs to adjust to us, it’s us who adjust to you.”

He is joined that afternoon by Alex Hammett, managing director of Inchcape South Asia and Pacific.

THIS Mazda CX8 occupies a premium real estate in the massive C5 showroom.

Hammett laid out the plans for the expansive, 1.2-hectare C5 headquarters which now has the Mazda showroom, service center and body shop.

Presiding over the luncheon at the newly renovated offices, Hammett detailed what’s on the pipeline for Inchcape Philippines.

“We combine market expertise with advanced data analytics, technology and customer-centric innovation to deliver value to our partners and customers,” Hammett said.

“Our extensive network helps efficiently scale markets, our digital delivery center in the Philippines provide analytics and insight for the group.”

That’s something that resonates with Francis.

“Being part of a group with first-world market. They’ve little more experience. Best-practice sharing on how to utilize these data,” Francis said.

CHANGAN UniK AWD retails for P2.719 million.

By June, it will be ready for close-up including the showroom for Changan; an even bigger body and paint shop to accommodate other brands aside from Mercedes; training room; parts warehouse; and a “hotel” for technicians who are coming over to Metro Manila for seminars.

Veteran aftersales executive Larry de Guzman provided a tour around the facility including the body and paint shop where no cameras were allowed.

ABOUT to be unwrapped is the Changan showroom which sits in the compound.

“Soon we’ll try to implement here our policy in Brunei where one panel repair takes only three hours,” said De Guzman who has the distinction of winning five straight aftersales awards when he was stationed in Brunei.

Soon, according to him, any minor repairs can be dealt with within the day.

Inchcape Philippines, which is what the partnership is now called, is part of the Apac region that also operates in Brunei, Thailand, Guam, Saipan and Micronesia.

It was formalized January of last year after two years of talks with the London-based automotive giant.

THE Mazda Showroom along C5 has undergone renovation including offices upstairs and service center.

“And we are not an expert when it comes to IT,” Francis said. “That’s the first thing we’d admit, we are very good at marketing, very good at selling cars.  We know this business inside and out.”

“But then, we sort of looking into the crystal ball and see how the automotive industry will be 30 years from now.  And it’s not the same as 20-30 years ago.”

The Ang family retained 40 percent stake in Inchcape Philippines with Francis holding the position of chief operating officer and Felix as board of directors.

SERVICE center is about to get even bigger.

With the facility nearing its completion, the partnership evolved into something they have envisioned it to be: An instrument in shaping a successful and sustainable future for the automotive industry in the Philippines.

Right now, it partners with Mercedes Benz, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM, Jaguar, Land Rover, Changan Auto, Harley Davidson and Mazda.

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