2014: Porsche Holding Salzburg on track for another record year
According to preliminary figures, Porsche Holding Salzburg (PHS) is again set to post a record year although market conditions were difficult at times in 2014. Alain Favey, CEO of the Porsche Holding Management Board, reported the news at the annual press conference in Vienna in mid-December.
With new car deliveries in 24 markets worldwide expected to total 615,000, the company will achieve an increase in the sales volume in wholesale and retail of just under 4% over the prior year. The number of retail dealerships rose to 592 this year (+3.9%). At 32,400, the number of staff also saw an increase (+1.7%).
At an international level in wholesale, Porsche Holding Salzburg not only works for the Volkswagen Group brands in Austria but also another 13 markets in Central and Eastern Europe and two markets in South America. In 2014 the sales volume will reach a new record of 274,000 new car deliveries (+2.4%). Austria accounts for 43% of the total wholesale volume.
The overall car market in the CEE region was 5.9% down from the previous year with around 640,000 new registrations. The reason for this was the market slump in Ukraine, where new vehicle registrations more than halved year on year. "Our goal is to maintain our retail activities there as far as possible. We hope the conflict will soon be resolved so we can return to normality quickly with our existing dealer network," says A. Favey remaining confident about the future.
The situation is extremely encouraging in large parts of Central and Eastern Europe, where PHS operates in both retail and wholesale. Although they started at a low level, the car market trends there are positive. The highest growth rates were recorded in Croatia (+21.5%), Hungary (+20.7%) and Romania (+20.1%).
Market performance for the Volkswagen Group brands that PHS sells in the CEE countries therefore continued to show a rise. This year the market share reached a new peak of approximately 18.5% (+2.5%).
Austria at high level but declining
In 2014 the overall Austrian market declined by about 4% compared to the previous year. Around 305,000 new registrations are expected, which still makes it a successful car year.
With four brands and six models in the top ten, the Volkswagen Group brands maintained their market position. Holding a 35.6% market share (1-11/2014), they kept up last year's high level. According to current forecasts, PHS will again close the year in Austria with a market share at record level.
Sustainable technologies in trade and service
PHS is increasingly investing in online services and technologies relating to vehicles. They include the largest online used car platform in Austria, Das WeltAuto, which people access for roughly 80% of the second hand car business.
The Mobile Service Reception, where the advisor uses a tablet PC to check in the vehicle for servicing, determines the work to be done and gives the customer a quotation on the spot, will be rolled out nationwide in 2015.
Unveiled a few weeks ago, the DiBOX is a unique, simple and convenient feature enabling car owners to keep in touch with their vehicles. The DiBOX is a small, digital box that can be retrofitted and connected to the vehicle's CAN bus. It records all kinds of useful data in real time which vehicle owners can access via the internet using the app on their smartphones.
The authorised garages for the Volkswagen Group brands with 400 service centres throughout Austria employ 14,000 people and ensure that the 1.8 million vehicles on the road receive the highest level of care. "The nationwide dealer and service network is one of our success factors. Closeness to customers and stability in our business model create trust and loyalty in the long term," says A. Favey. This is also corroborated by a recent GfK study on customer expectations of authorised service centres. It showed that 69% of customers claimed to use their brands' authorised centres regularly. About 91% of these customers would recommend "their" garage.
Investment drive to be continued
In addition to capital expenditure for online developments, Porsche Holding Salzburg is also increasingly investing in infrastructure, thus safeguarding jobs. PHS's average investment volume in Austria totals approximately 35 million euros a year. 2014 was an exception with 53 million euros allocated for construction. One focus of investment was Salzburg, where the Parts Distribution Centre was expanded, the Alpenstraße training centre extended and the new Porschehof office building completed. In addition, more capital was also invested in expanding and modernising the Austrian dealerships in the Porsche Inter Auto Group. "We will again be investing in sustainable development for our distribution and service organisation in 2015 and consequently safeguarding jobs in Austria," says A. Favey, underscoring PHS's key role as a local employer.
Outlook for 2015
Low interest rates, falling fuel prices and a stable economic situation in general bode well for positive overall market performance in Austria. Unless the government imposes higher taxes on motorists, PHS actually sees opportunities for slight market growth in the coming year. The company is striving to achieve a market share for the Volkswagen Group brands in 2015 on a par with the two previous years.
In the CEE markets, where PHS operates in retail sales, the company expects the current trends to continue and therefore looks forward to further growth. This does not however apply to Ukraine. Given the present situation, no forecasts can be given.