Saab Spain chief interviewed

There was a time, not so long ago, when Spain overtook Germany and became Saab’s fourth largest market. It seems there was something with the Swedish marque that resonated with Spaniards. The convertible, maybe?

The guy looking after Saab’s interests in Spain is Manuel Alcazar and he recently did an interview with the Spanish newspaper, Negocio.

An SU reader named Oscar, has sent through a Googltrans of that interview, which I’ve edited (where I can) and reproduced below:

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Manuel Alcazar, president of Saab Automobile in Spain: “GM is a clear example of how not to manage a premium brand”

In May he became the youngest CEO of a car company in Spain. At 36, Manuel Alcazar has worked in Auna and Procter & Gamble, and landed at General Motors (GM) in 2000. In the past four years has managed the areas of marketing and after sales at Opel and Saab.

Signed directly by Victor Muller, the owner of Spyker sports cars, which in February bought the assets of GM-Saab, Manuel Alcazar wants to return the shine to Saab as quickly as possible and has no qualms in admitting that his old company mis-managed development of the Swedish company.

“General Motors is a clear example of how not to manage a premium brand within a general product portfolio,” said the manager during an interview with NEGOCIO.

Alcázar, who’s aims include that the “number one” priority is that Saab reach profitability as soon as possible and appropriate “in all areas, not just the after sales market,” believes that the case of Scandinavian signature is similar to Ford Motor with Volvo Car: “If you buy a luxury brand you have to be true to its roots. If you endow the product with finishes and qualities from your volume marques, you destroy its premium position”, he says.

Spain, afloat in 2013

Saab, which has been GM controlled since 1989, achieved record sales in 2006 with 133,000 units.

The aim of Spyker is to have Saab back to profitability in 2012, with an annual global volume of about 125,000 units, Alcázar expected to exceed the peak of 5361 units sold by the marque in Spain in 2007.

“From 2013 we can have historical figures, some 6,000 units, but that requires us to fulfill all the steps,” says the executive. These stages are focused on managing the arrival of the new 9.3 (in 2012), and the new 9.5.

The new CEO of Saab expects the Spanish subsidiary will remain as the fourth world market for Saab, behind the U.S., UK and Sweden, and sold in 2010 estimated that “between 1,300 and 1,500 units.” In 2009, Saab Spain sold 1,577 cars, and until May just delivered 246 units of 9-3 and 9-5 over 22 today.

Starting from scratch

“I will not say that the mark has fallen into oblivion, but it is a great unknown. The customer perception is that the brand has gone”, said Alcazar, who already has 400 orders for the new 9-5 and wants the existing fleet of 50,000 Saab rolling in Spain increased by recovering the traditionally loyal customers of the company.

According to Manuel Alcazar, Saab has a loyalty rate of 70%. “The closest competitor, who is not premium, less than 50%,” says the manager, who recognizes that the majority of lost customers in recent years due to lack of launch has gone to Audi models.

“We do not compete with anyone. With BMW and Mercedes either, but to recover sales rivaled associated with our customers, “explains the head of Saab, which draws a path of commercial growth in the short and medium term greater than in the case of Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

We are small and modest, allowing us to fewer complications of structure and enhanced capacity for expansion. Duplicate sales now for us is to go from 300 to 600 units a quarter, “he says.

Even with the lack of Saab’s business strategy until the arrival of Spyker, the Spanish division of the car has not lost just muscle representation in Spain.

Saab manages a structure of 52 (55 dealers before its crisis) centers “in our country, divided almost 50% in multi-points with some other brand of General Motors and the competition on the one hand, and multi-brand dealers who share the Saab car sales to other firms in the rest.

The Spanish subsidiary, Manuel Alcazar specified in this newspaper, is considering the establishment of a subsidiary own Saab dealer, but not in an immediate way. “First we must be aware of the sales network we have, which is what we have to help reach 6,000 units in 2013, when we have the whole range,” said the executive.

Saab’s general manager, who hopes to enroll “something less” than a million cars in Spain in 2010, also contends that the bubble in the automotive industry has exploded and it was “not true” the million and a half over units that “we thought was our market.”

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