Dutch distributor Kroymans expands 1.1 billion euro empire

Hilversum. Kroymans Corp. is steadily increasing the number of car brands its dealers handle and expanding the countries it operates in, especially German-speaking markets.

Founded in 1844, Kroymans now includes more than 120 companies offering what CEO Ton van Soest describes as a "total mobility concept."

Its businesses include car dealers and import companies for automobiles, components and accessory equipment; plus car-leasing organizations and financing corporations; car-rental companies; body repair shops; and companies manufacturing industrial products and car accessories.

"We do anything the customer wants," van Soest said of the company's marketing strategy.

In its home markets of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands Kroymans is, beside its competitors van Helk and Kuehne, one of the three market leaders in vehicle import, car components and accessories.

In 2002 the group had revenue of 1.1 billion euros and a gross profit of 95 million euros. It has 2,473 employees.

Kroymans continues to focus on growth "step by step," van Soest said. He rules out any big takeovers and hopes to gradually build revenue to 1.5 billion euros by 2005.

One spur to growth is its recently signed contract with General Motors giving Kroymans the exclusive right to sell Cadillac and Chevrolet Corvette in 22 European countries from October 2003. The GM models will be joining a wide range of other Kroymans brands: Ferrari, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Kia, SsangYong and -- for nearly 50 years -- Saab.

The stock corporation, which is 100% owned by the founder's grandson, Frits Kroyman, is looking at extending its portfolio. The plan is to also become the reseller for Volvo and Land Rover within the next few years, beside its core brands Saab, Opel, Jaguar and Ford.

"We will start in the Benelux countries and then will slowly enter the German market," said van Soest. Kroymans has already been testing the German market --since the second half of 2002 it has been selling Saabs via a dealer in Hamburg. In Neuss and Dusseldorf Kroymans is investing millions of euros in new Saab show rooms. Van Soest hopes to increase Kroymans' share in the German market for Swedish cars to 20% within the next three to four years.

Another milestone in Kroymans' history was the group's decision to re-introduce the Korean manufacturer SsangYong in May 2003. The Dutch company does not seem worried that the manufacturer withdrew from the German market in 1998 due to the brand's failure to attract a sufficient amount of customers in Germany. Van Soest is convinced that the brand will have a successful comeback due to its "good price - performance relationship" - and because of the enormous power of the three SsangYong models on offer: Musso, Korando and Rexton. "Which of their competitors manages to pull 3,500 kilos?"

After the expansion of the corporation's German market share, entering the Austrian and Swiss markets will be the next step. So far the Dutch company has no plans to enter any other European markets. "We have got an instinct for the German speaking markets. Spain and France for example are a completely different matter," says van Soest.

Car import and resale make up 74 percent of Kroymans' turnover. However, the two business sectors only make approximately 30 percent of the gross profit. The leasing and financing sectors are much more profitable. They only make 8 percent of the total turnover but nearly 55 percent of the group's profit.

Kroymans plans to expand those business sectors and hopes to establish leasing and financing packages outside its regular market. Those services will be offered via its car sales partners in Germany.

The Dutch company also believes that the car rental business also has a lot of potential. Not only in the Benelux countries, where nearly a year ago Kroymans bought the rights off National Car Rental and Alamo Car Rental. Van Soest believes that the future depends on the fusion of services from both rental and financing business. Van Soest questions why a leasing contract always has to be tied to a specific vehicle. He believes that during the lease contract period customers should be given a more flexibility regarding the choice of their vehicle. Van Soest: "Why should one not be able to swap one's off-roader for a convertible in summer or for a station wagon, if necessary?"

Tags: Retail

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