Austrians aim to swallow struggling German Mercedes-Benz dealers

Berlin. Mercedes-Benz dealers in in Germany are coming under increasing pressure from falling sales and increased foreign competition.

The Wiesenthal Group, which sells Mercedes-Benz vehicles in Austria, is planning to expand its business in Germany by moving for two struggling Mercedes businesses.

Alexander Martinowsky, Wiesenthal managing director, confirmed that he is currently negotiating a capital share with two Mercedes-Benz dealerships, with consent from the German DaimlerChrysler sales organization DCVD.

Wiesenthal already owns 51 percent of shares of City Automobil Vertriebs GmbH. The company runs six Smart centers in the Rheinland and the Bodensee regions of Germany.

According to inside information 10 percent of the 98 Mercedes dealers in Germany have big financial problems.

The reason is the weak auto market. Since the beginning of the year Mercedes' unit sales fell by 5.6 percent. In May sales were down by 13.4 percent compared to the same period in 2003.

Walter Missing, DCVD's sales network director, has developed a concept to support dealers with extra bonuses in return for greater investments.

DCVD has also started restructuring its commercial vehicle sales network, in view of the increased competition.

Missing said: "In some areas the network is no longer suitable."

Dealers in trouble are being asked if they want to give up their contracts.

Tags: Automakers

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