Gary Deakin, Mercedes-Benz Oman’s General Manager Passenger Cars, is optimistic about the automotive market’s recovery and expects it to become more competitive in 2019
What is your future outlook for automotive sector?
Currently we are seeing the country’s economy rise and modestly recover. Within the automotive industry, we are forecasting a 10 per cent growth in new vehicle sales, with commercial vehicle sales set to rise by 8 per cent in 2019. With that, we are optimistic that the market will become even more competitive this year, and of course, a competitive market is a healthy market.
Where we currently stand, Mercedes-Benz Oman remains one of the largest automotive dealers and market leaders in the Sultanate’s executive and luxury car segment. However, we don’t take our success lightly. As we move into 2019, we will continue to look at our business processes, particularly the way we support our customers. We have implemented a direct client-centric approach that puts our customers at the heart of everything we do. We are taking it upon ourselves to invest heavily in new initiatives, develop internal processes and enhance our staffs’ skillsets to really give our customers the exceptional service that they deserve.
How do you foresee Oman’s economic growth in 2019?
While the country’s economic challenges continue to improve, we are optimistic about the market’s recovery and growth and expect it to become even more competitive in 2019. Recent industry reports indicate that Oman will become the fastest growing economy within the GCC region in 2019, with growth of up to 5 per cent. This is an impeccable turnaround following the decline we faced during the last two years. Against this background, Mercedes-Benz Oman continued to excel throughout these conditions. refocusing its efforts internally to enhance its service offering and customer experience.
What are the challenges for the automotive industry in the years ahead?
While the Sultanate’s economy continues to show signs of improvement, there will still be challenges and Mercedes-Benz Oman will continue to adapt accordingly. I strongly believe it is essential to focus on creating solutions and the possibilities of what can be accomplished when our energy is directed at finding remedies, instead of the negativity that can come from focusing on our failures.
In order to overcome any challenge, we have continued to focus much of our attention on training and developing our teams to ensure customers not only get ‘the best or nothing’, from the moment they step into our showroom, to when they drive away but most importantly maintain their loyalty after that. Our staff across all departments are prepared with the necessary tools to deliver the highest standard of customer satisfaction in hopes of successfully rising to the challenges both big and small.
In addition to training, we will continue to introduce new offers and more ways to engage with Mercedes-Benz owners through our aftersales initiatives such as our She’s Mercedes customer service events, which was recently chosen as a worldwide customer services best practice. In addition, we will be building on the success of previous offers including health checks, air conditioning inspections and diagnostic. Prioritizing customers and providing legendary service have always been at the core of what we do. We believe it has been instrumental in contributing to our success and we are confident that it will continue to result in future successes.
What are the new areas that Mercedes-Benz plans to foray into in 2019?
Going forward, the company plans to continue to set industry benchmarks and maintain its position as automotive leaders. We are very confident that the momentum we have built over the last few years will progress into the New Year, by focusing on delivering exceptional customer service, launching new and popular initiatives that are not only innovative but provide customers with what they truly want.
At Mercedes-Benz, inventing new technologies and making them accessible to everyone have always been the most defining expressions of the brand. Today we have spearhead endless innovations in the field of safety and autonomous driving, including driving assistance and safety systems.
But beyond that, we know that the most important aspect behind what we do comes from our relationships, not just with our customers but with our team. Having those relationships will always be the most valued.
How was the year 2018 for the automotive sector in general and Mercedes-Benz in particular?
Mercedes-Benz Oman has proved to have a very successful 2018, we were awarded Oman’s Most Trusted Brand within the luxury automotive industry for the second consecutive year. Our direct client centric approach combined with our commitment to reach new heights was well received by our customers. In addition to reinforcing our longstanding trust with customers, the year saw a number of vehicle launches which were equally successful.
Last year, Mercedes-Benz Oman launched the S-Class Coupé, a pure temptation with its sport-classic proportions and breathtaking design and the S-Class Cabriolet with new engines and enhanced driving assistance systems taking another big step towards autonomous driving. The year also welcomed the newest A-Class which has been met with an incredible response so far. Leading the compact market and setting its own standards that are more thrilling, dynamic and feistier than ever.
The C-Class family brought an unprecedented level of dynamism with the new C-Class Sedan, the new C-Class Coupé and the new C-Class Cabriolet.
That wasn’t all; as we ended 2018 with a big bang, launching the most anticipated and sought-after vehicles of the year – the new G-Class and Mercedes-Benz AMG GT 4-Door Coupé. Continuing its legacy in a class of its own, the G-Class is a vehicle with incredible power, outstanding off-road capabilities, comfort and exclusive design. As for the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé, it introduced driving dynamics at motorsport level, with a whole new dimension. An extension of the AMG model family, the new Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé is the first four-door sports car from Affalterbach, taking the top spot with its blend of explosive sprints and maximum comfort.
Muhammed Nafie is an Assistant Editor at Oman Economic Review.