Ziebart eyes Middle East and North Africa expansion
After-market expert also setting sights on Australia and South America.
Ziebart International Corporation is keen to expand in the Middle East and North Africa by exploring new markets, its president and chief executive officer Thomas E. Wolfe told Khaleej Times in an interview.
Ziebart is the worldwide leader in appearance and protection services, providing complete car care solutions to its customers via a worldwide network of more than 400 franchise locations, with 800 Ziebart Service Centres in 34 countries.
The after-market company, which celebrated its 56th anniversary in June, has had a presence in the Middle East for more than 35 years. It covers all Gulf countries with different master franchisees and select countries in the Middle East including Turkey.
"We have pretty good coverage in the Middle East and now we are looking at potential markets in North Africa," Wolfe said at the recent Dubai International Motor Show.
"We are planning to enter Egypt, Morocco and Algeria soon," he said. In addition, the company is looking at Australia and a few countries in South America, he added. Earlier this year, the company started operations in Thailand through a new master franchisee.
Ziebart expects $150 million dealership sales worldwide in 2015. "We are looking at another five per cent increase next year. The key would be the introduction of new products and expansion into new countries," Wolfe said.
Talking about its business in Gulf countries, he mentioned that Saudi Arabia is the biggest market in the region but the UAE has had exceptional growth as Galadari Automobiles Company recorded a six-fold increase in turnover over the last five years.
The growth in the UAE is a result of Galadari Automobiles Company's continued investment into the business and expansion, he said, adding: "Master franchisees control their own expansion and here [in the UAE] Galadari Automobiles Company has five stores and they are going to open three more stores next year."
Galadari Automobiles Company has been a Ziebart dealer since 1978 and is now the master franchisee for the whole of the UAE. It offers a wide variety of services such as Diamond Gloss paint protection, rust protection, interior and exterior detailing, window tinting, Z-Shield paint protection film and anti-bacterial Inner Guard. Ziebart is now launching in the GCC its colour change and advertising wrap film business.
Responding a question about extreme weather conditions in the GCC market, he replied: "We have a range of heat resistant metalised and ceramic films for this market."
Dubai International Motor Show
Held every two years, the Dubai International Motor Show's 2015 edition was the biggest, best and most action-packed to date. Galadari Automobiles Company participated in the show with four stands; one of them belonged to Ziebart.
The company introduced new products for the first time outside the US at the Dubai International Motor Show. "We introduced the wrap and graphics business at the show this year," he said.
Colour change wraps are vinyl wraps that cover the existing factory paint of the vehicle, he explained and added: "The customer can choose to have the whole vehicle wrapped to change the paint colour, add vehicle striping or graphics or just wrap sections like the hood, roof, truck or tailgate for that unique look."
After-market sector challenges
Wolfe said the automobile industry keeps changing the company's products so the after-market industry must continue to change its products and services to meet the needs of new automobiles.
Giving examples, he mentioned that Ziebart was the largest installer of remote starts for cars in the world but now cars are coming with this option as part of a new trend.
"We used to install a huge amount of keyless entry but now almost every car is coming with this option," he added.
He mentioned that the window-tinting business will be another hit for the after-market industry as automakers are planning solutions for that. It could be one touch to get your windows tinted whenever it is required or maybe automatically in sunlight, he revealed. That's the reason Ziebart wants to push the colour change and advertising for wrap and graphics business, he added.
Wolfe, who has served Ziebart for over 35 years, has been continually diversifying Ziebart to offer customers additional car care options to enhance and protect their cars and trucks.
Under his leadership, Ziebart has expanded domestically and throughout the world.
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