BOLOGNA - Mercedes-Benz Italia's plan to streamline its dealer network reaches an important phase this month when it opens a new super-dealership in Milan.
MB Milano is expected to sell 4,000 new cars and 500 commercial vehicles - and service 25,000 vehicles - a year. It will generate annual revenues of L350 billion (euro 180 million).
MB Milano was formed by merging the Mercedes-owned Milan store with two private dealers in Milan, Genghini and Milano Star. Mercedes will own 51 percent of MB Milano, and the two dealers will own 24.5 percent each.
MB Milano is the first of several super-dealers Mercedes wants to create in Italy. At the end of 1998, Mercedes had 107 Italian franchises. It wants to cut that figure to between 60-65.
This streamlining plan was announced to Italian dealers in July 1998. The process should be completed by the end of 2000.
Other super-dealers will be created in major Italian cities such as Rome and Bologna where Mercedes doesn't own factory stores.
Mercedes-Benz Italia will take minority stakes of between 20-25 percent in these other dealers, leaving the remainder - and the management control - to private dealers.
'The Milan super-dealership is a world first for DaimlerChrysler, but it is not the first time we have come up with innovations that are later exported to the rest of the world,' said Jochen Prange, the outgoing president of Mercedes-Benz Italia.
'We invented MB Spots (lifestyle shops in major city centers) for the A-class, which were then replicated in Germany and South America. We were also the first subsidiary to take direct control of Smart distribution.'