Dutch dealer group aims to be among the big players

Hilversum, the Netherlands. Ton van Soest is no stranger to grand visions.

"We want to contribute to a new definition of quality in the automotive world," said the chief executive of The Netherlands-based Kroymans Group in an interview with Automobilwoche.

The fragmented auto trade in Europe requires "a couple of players with sufficient financial means," he says, and his company should certainly fit the bill.

Van Soest considers Germany, Switzerland and Austria to be among the "strategic target markets" for the Dutch company.

Kroymans currently sells 17 brands in 27 countries. Last year its sales reached 1.7 billion euros, with profits of 132 million euros before tax, interest and depreciation.

That was based on sales of 45,000 new and 15,000 used vehicles, along with other activities. Income can be reinvested in the group, since Kroymans Group's major shareholder Frits Kroymans has waived dividends until 2007.

The investment structure is also well secured with bank loans. "Our credit line stands at 220 million euros for sales and 548.5 million euros for leasing," Van Soest says. With all its supplier loans included, Kroymans has potential financing of 1 billion euros available.

Part of the money will be poured into the expansion of Kroymans' dealer network. Out of the 50 million euros available for this in 2005, about 20 million are destined for Cadillac & Corvette Experience Centers. By 2006, the company is expected to have established a total of 35 centers, each receiving an investment of between 3 million and 5 million euros.

The import and sales of General Motors vehicles that Kroymans has been handling on an exclusive basis since October 2003 will account for the largest part of the 150 million-euro investment between 2004 and 2006.

That business is developing slowly. For 2005, the group tallied Europe-wide sales of about 7,000 Cadillac, Corvette and Chevrolet vehicles.

Nevertheless, van Soest, who has led Kroymans since 2001, wants to expand the collaboration.

Negotiations over an import contract for GMC-brand vehicles are expected to continue in the second half of this year.

Kroymans also wants to offer the Hummer brand. In addition, Kroymans expects to further solidify its sales network.

Van Soest has identified 50 open locations, 22 of them in Germany, that he wants to occupy with his company or with partners.

Tags: Retail People

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