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New SsangYong importer and distributor

2nd January 2008 Print
A new company, Koelliker UK Ltd, headed by former Landwind Europe and Kia boss, Paul Williams, has taken over the importation and distribution of SsangYong. Koelliker UK (KUK) acquired certain assets from SsangYong UK Ltd (in administration) in December including vehicle stock, offices in Fleet, Hampshire and the parts stock at the Luton parts centre.

Speaking about the new company for the first time, Paul Williams said that the first priority was to reassure the 60-strong dealer network, explain who was behind Koelliker UK and to re-launch the South Korean brand in the New Year.

“SsangYong registrations in 2007 are over 30 per cent down – and a total in 2006 of only 2,017 was hardly impressive. Dealer morale is probably at rock bottom, so the first task is to tell them what KUK is doing and give them the confidence and incentive to back the brand,” said Williams.

He has already called dealers together to tell them that KUK has the financial strength and stability, experience and muscle to enable SsangYong to punch well above its weight.

Although an unfamiliar name here, KUK is a new company within Gruppo Koelliker, Italy’s most important private automotive group with a 2006 turnover of €1.612 billion on sales of 92,475 vehicles. Crucially, Gruppo Koelliker already handles SsangYong not only in Italy, but also in Austria and Hungary. But the group’s experience of Korean brands goes even deeper than that. Koelliker also handles Kia and Hyundai in Italy, as well as Mitsubishi.

“We have already been to Korea to explain our plans for the UK – and to see new models that are in the pipe-line,” continued Williams. “We now want to share those plans with the dealer network including a simplified and revised product range, new pricing, brand positioning and what we will do to relaunch and market SsangYong, starting immediately in the New Year.”

He added: “The product is well-built, well-equipped, reliable and matches the competition in terms of technology. But we do need to be realistic when positioning the brand and targeting the right sectors of the market. There is considerable potential for SsangYong in the UK and for a profitable dealer network. This month, it’s a fresh start.”

Gruppo Koelliker has a solid pedigree and was founded in 1936 by Bepi Koelliker. His son, Luigi now runs the business from headquarters in Milan. In over 70 years, the group has sold over 1.4 million passenger cars including Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, Rootes Group and British Leyland brands, Chrysler Jeep and Seat. Gruppo Koelliker includes logistics and parts handling businesses as well as dealerships in Milan, Turin, Rome, Padua and Bologna.