New dealership opens in Botany
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From car groomer to motor industry entrepreneur, Andrew Simms the man has built a multi-franchise group retailing about a dozen major vehicle brands.
Starting with Mitsubishi in Newmarket, Andrew Simms the business has expanded to represent Kia, Great Wall, Haval, Chery, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands.
It now operates from its iconic Newmarket site that has housed a Mitsubishi dealership since the 1960s, to several sites in Newmarket and a new operation in Auckland’s eastern suburb of Botany, opened this week. Further expansion is planned for later this year.
Simms began in the car industry as a groomer while studying at Otago University in Dunedin, and he quickly found his way into sales. He later moved to Christchurch and moved up the ranks in the car industry until purchasing the Christchurch Mitsubishi dealership, which he ran with Gary Donnithorne, as Donnithorne Simms Mitsubishi.
The Landseer Group was established in 1997 to buy that business, and has grown significantly since, and the Auckland operation has taken on additional shareholders.
Although it began in Newmarket as a sole Mitsubishi dealership, it has since worked with the Ateco Group and Kia New Zealand to add additional franchises.
In 2009 it opened Andrew Simms European with Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Citroen, and soon after Andrew Simms Great Wall, at 425 Broadway.
As the result of changes in the ownership of various vehicle distribution operations, in 2013 the group established a Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge dealership.
“After looking at a number of options in December 2013, we opened Andrew Simms Botany to serve the East Auckland community, and Andrew Simms Botany is a 15,000sq m multi-franchised site and has three distinct vehicle showrooms, a large undercover used-car clearance centre, and a 32-bay workshop,” said dealer principal Matthew Wales.
The group began in Newmarket selling solely Mitsubishi models with about 50 staff but had grown to about 180 across all sites, and with further expansion planned, it expected to be at around the 200-level midway through this year.
Wales said the keys to the company’s success had been its people, strong brands and a customer centric culture.
“Our people, from groomers, technicians, salespeople, administration staff, parts staff and managers, do an exceptional job,” he said.
“We have many team members who have been with us since the beginning and have low staff turnover. Exceptional people ensure that our customers receive an exceptional experience every time they interact with us and has been a key part of our success.”
Wales said Andrew Simms had also been fortunate to be chosen to represent strong brands, that delivered product that was well received in the New Zealand marketplace.
“All the brands we represent have supportive New Zealand based distributors who have supported us in our success. The support of these brands and their New Zealand management teams had been instrumental in our success.”
Wales said Andrew Simms also had a very loyal and supportive customer base.
“Every one of our team members is tasked with ensuring we deliver a customer-centric experience and this is a key part of our culture. We see a lot of repeat and referral business and are exceptional grateful for the support of our customer base.”
He said among the franchises held, Jeep was an iconic and authentic brand of SUV which delivered a high-end vehicle suited to the New Zealand outdoor lifestyle.
“They are one of the most capable vehicles off-road in the market yet deliver a refined city driving experience,” he said.
The current Jeep model line up, including the new Jeep Compass models were well built, well spec’d and represent exceptional value.
“We are confident Jeep will continue to experience significant growth in the NZ market place,” he said.
Mitsubishi was the foundation brand of the business, the range represented reliability, value for money and safety and had been a favourite for many years. Wales said Mitsubishi had a product range well suited to the New Zealand market, with iconic models such as the Mirage, ASX, Outlander, Triton, Pajero sport and Pajero.
Kia was a challenger brand that had rapidly grown into a recognised mainstream brand with 100 per cent growth in the past two years. Kia had a stylish, well-priced reliable product and with regular product updates Kia was well placed to continue to grow.
East Auckland was growing and the company represented Jeep, Ram, Mitsubishi and Kia in both East and Central Auckland.