BMW posted double digit growth in the Middle East last year. What were the main factors that led to an increase in sales?
For the first time ever, we sold over 30,000 BMW and MINI cars in the Middle East region, which resulted in a sales increase of 23 per cent over 2013. There were various factors that contributed to this growth but the main drivers were our strong brands and attractive new car launches that were relevant to the Middle East region.
For example, our X models accounted for the first time for over 40 per cent of our total Middle East sales, while we launched the all-new X4, the new X3 with design modifications as well as the second generation X6.
Our 7 Series sales account for 14 per cent of the total BMW sales volume, which is the highest share worldwide. In addition, our importers in the markets continued to invest in our brands across all areas of the business in terms of opening new facilities, refurbishing existing ones, introducing new customer related services, which all played a pivotal role in the growth of our brands.
How is the overall luxury car industry performing in the Middle East?
The premium automotive segment in which we operate grew at around 15 per cent in the Middle East region last year.
What are the biggest challenges that you face?
The automotive industry is very competitive. We believe that competition is healthy, and we aim to strengthen our position in the premium segment further by introducing innovative products and services, and planning further investments on retail level together with our importers.
Has the market become too saturated?
The GDP growth across the GCC is currently between four to six per cent. In the MENA region, total sales are currently around 3.9 million and are expected to reach seven million by 2020 according to the Boston Consultancy Group. This is almost 80 per cent growth over the next five years.
The GCC economies are robust and growing, thus attracting people. I am confident that a healthy growth can be sustained well into the future.
What is the current focus for BMW in the region? Are you looking to expand operations?
With regards to products, we will continue to introduce new models which are relevant to this region. During the first quarter of this year we will build on our X model portfolio with the launch of the BMW X5 M and X6 M, and throughout the year we have plans to launch other new models.
Another key focus area of our business is our importers’ plans to invest in new facilities or refurbish existing facilities. Over the last five years, they have invested over $300 million and over the next two years there will be a substantial amount of additional investment, giving our customers an even greater experience with our brands on retail level.
What’s your personal leadership style?
Successful leadership and peak performance are not possible without mutual trust. Transparency and open dialogue within the team are important to me. I also encourage my team to challenge my own views and opinions, in order to create constructive debates that lead to the best business solutions. I practice empowerment, as far as possible.
On the other hand, I expect from each associate strong commitment, loyalty, proactive thinking and acting as well as top performance, to support our business objectives and to live up to the high expectations of our customers.
What makes the perfect employee?
I believe in strength-oriented assignment. When you work in an area where you are good at, and you are enthusiastic about your work, you’ve already got great preconditions. Add integrity, proactive attitude and a strong sense of accountability, and you are probably close to perfection.
Three tips for becoming the boss…
Beyond your specific business skills, you need to have a passion for leadership, and be able to relate and communicate to people. You need to be ready to take decisions, and to assume full responsibility, for your business and your team. Be flexible and mobile, especially when you work in a multinational organisation.