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The Daily Star
THURSDAY, 17 APR 2014
03:52 AM Beirut time
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Syria conflict weighs on Renault sales
Renault sill pins high hopes on the future of the region. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
Renault sill pins high hopes on the future of the region. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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BEIRUT: Renault group is seeking to expand its market share in Levant countries despite taking a severe blow in Syria where escalating violence has brought car sales to a halt since June, area operational manager for the Middle East-Levant countries Nicolas Tison said.

Renault group is forecasting sales in Syria to close at 30 units by the end of 2012, a massive decrease from the yearly average of 1,500, Tison told The Daily Star.

A total of 4,000 vehicles are expected to be sold in Syria this year, a 95 percent decrease from the annual 80,000 average.

“Despite the ongoing conflict in Syria, Renault will not give up on its partner in Damascus and is planning financial aid to help him survive the crisis,” Tison said in an interview on the sidelines of the 60th anniversary of Renault’s Lebanese representative Bassoul Heneine.

In neighboring Lebanon, where ripples of the Syrian crisis are being felt with dipping consumer confidence, Renault will surprisingly post sales growth of 10 percent by the end of 2012, Tison said.

New vehicle sales in Lebanon rose 6.3 percent in the first 10 months of 2012. A total of 29,198 units, including light commercial vehicles, were registered compared to 27,473 last year, according to data released by the Association of Car Importers in Lebanon.

Renault group is forecast to sell 2,450 new vehicles by the end of 2012, ranking in the first spot among European brands and coming in fourth place after Korean cars Kia and Hyundai and Japanese brand Nissan, Tison said.

Korean cars topped the list of new vehicles sold in the first eight months in 2012 with 44.8 percent of the market share and year over year growth of 14.5 percent with 11,714.

With the ongoing conflict in Syria expected to weigh on consumer confidence in 2013, Tison said Renault hoped for flat unit sales in 2013 as it seeks to increase its market share to 7 percent as a midterm target.

While Renault’s market share currently stands at 6.2 percent, the group is a leader in terms of LCV sales with a 25 percent market share, Tison added.

Much like Syria, Renault went through a difficult 2012 in Jordan where it changed its local representative a year ago and officially launched a new showroom and workshop in September.

The group is expected to sell 150 units by the end of 2012, Tison said.

Renault is seeking to expand its market share to 2 percent in the next two years and become the first European brand by 2016 with a market share of 5 percent, he added.

Despite its aggressive expansion strategy in emerging markets, Renault failed in 2012 to compensate for sluggish sales in debt-ridden European countries.

The Renault group sold 1,328,437 vehicles in the first half of 2012 down 3.3 percent compared to the same period last with continued international growth failing to offset the 14.9 percent decrease in Europe in the first half.

But that is expected to change in 2013 as over half of Renault group sales are being made outside Europe, according to Tison. In South America, sales have stabilized, he said.

Tison added that strong growth in sales is expected to continue in Asia including China, Taiwan, India as well as Russia and North Africa.

In the next five years, the European market is forecast to see flat sales, Tison said, adding Renault expects an increase in the market share with the launch of seven new models.

Tison also denied Renault planned to shut down any factories in France as suggested by media reports.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 20, 2012, on page 5.
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