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Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008

Ferrari to open subsidiary as luxury car sales boom


Staff writer

Ferrari SpA announced Friday it will open a Japanese subsidiary on July 1, transferring importer rights from dealer Cornes & Co. in an effort to cash in on the growing Japanese luxury market.

Cornes has been the importer and dealer of the Ferrari brand in Japan for the past 30 years, but the company will transfer Ferrari's import rights to Ferrari Japan K.K. and remain just as its dealer.

"Japan today is the largest luxury market in the world," said Ferrari Asia Pacific CEO Marco Mattiacci at a news conference in Tokyo. "Our goal is to get closer to our customer base."

Mattiacci said creating a 100 percent subsidiary in Japan is part of Ferrari's global strategy to enter directly into local markets.

Ferrari already has subsidiaries in Britain, Germany, France, the U.S. and China.

Although domestic car sales dropped to 5.35 million units in 2007, down 6.7 percent from the previous year, Ferrari and other luxury cars have enjoyed a boost in sales.

Ferrari sold 376 cars in Japan last year, up 38.7 percent, it said. New registration of Maserati cars rose 21.8 percent to 463 and Aston Martin to 268, up 17 percent, in 2007.

But the opening of Ferrari's Japanese unit is bad news for Cornes, which will lose part of its profit.

"As an importer, it will hit us hard because we will lose our margin," said Shinichiro Watari, president of Cornes. "The margin will drop to about half" of what it is now.

Watari, however, stressed that the agreement with Ferrari was amicable and that Ferrari has never complained about Cornes' business performance.

Watari also said there was talk of Cornes, which also sells the Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Maserati brands in Japan, purchasing part of Ferrari Japan's shares and sending board members, but the two sides agreed not to.

"There will be a conflict of interest. I don't want to do anything too troublesome," Watari said.



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