Interview with Bruce Robertson, Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover in the MENA Region
Published on 7 October 2015 by Editorial
Bruce Robertson is Managing Director for Jaguar Land Rover Middle East and North Africa, having taken up the role in April 2014.
Bruce joined the MENA team with 19 years of experience in global sales and operational roles for Jaguar Land Rover in key markets including China, the UK and South Africa. Prior to joining the Jaguar Land Rover MENA team, Bruce was Executive Vice President – Sales & Service Operations for Jaguar Land Rover in China, the largest market for both Jaguar and Land Rover products globally. During his three and a half years in China, Bruce was instrumental in transforming the business from an operation selling less than 20,000 vehicles a year with 34 dealers in 2010, to selling 103,000 vehicles with 220 dealers in 2013/14.
From 2002 to 2010, Bruce held a number of sales and operational roles at Land Rover UK, the largest market for Land Rover sales globally at the time, helping to steer the Dealer network through the toughest financial recession ever to achieve record levels of profitability in his role as Sales Director.
As Managing Director for Jaguar Land Rover MENA, Bruce is now spearheading the next phase of growth in what is now one of the fastest growing regions in the world for the luxury automotive manufacturer.
Born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 1970, Bruce has a Masters Degree (MBA) from Warwick Business School. He lives in Dubai with his wife and two children and is an active sports fanatic, having spent ten years as a semi-professional rugby referee for the Rugby Football Union including refereeing the Dubai Rugby Sevens in 2007 – 2008.
Speaking of global automotive industry trends, which excite you the most and why?
Environmental Responsibility is one of the key trends that are on the rise in the automotive industry now and a priority at Jaguar Land Rover. Through our company expertise and innovation, Jaguar Land Rover constantly strives to marry sustainability with performance on both a product and operations level. This synergy is what helps our brand further drive sustainability and decrease our impact on the environment.
On a product front, we focus on manufacturing vehicles that meet the needs of our customers now and long into the future. Our future ability to deliver the levels of performance, capability and luxury, which our Jaguar and Land Rover brands are renowned for, in a responsible manner, is what will truly set us apart. Jaguar Land Rover is continuously investing in R&D to make our cars smarter, cleaner and safer.
Our research in this segment has led to firsts such as our intelligent stop/start technology offering fuel saving opportunities and our hybrid and electric solutions which led to the launch of the Range Rover Sport Hybrid – the world’s first hybrid luxury SUV.
We are on a very positive trajectory to reduce vehicle emissions and improve fuel economy through more efficient and downsized engines, alternative powertrains and lighter vehicles.
We also lead the world in the use of aluminium to reduce weight to improve fuel efficiency and emissions. Today we are the biggest producer of aluminium bodies in the world. We will continue to excel and innovate with lightweight architectures.
These, and a range of other innovations, have helped us reduce our fleet CO2 average by 25 per cent since 2007.
Thanks to the huge investment made across all Jaguar Land Rover facilities in the last decade, the company’s team of world-class designers, engineers and production specialists has the most advanced tools at their disposal to build cars with cutting-edge technologies and lower environmental impact.
The car of the future will become more capable, cleaner, more connected, more desirable and smarter. These are the five themes that are leading the research we are undertaking at Jaguar Land Rover today.
As a company, we invest more in research and development than any other manufacturer in the UK and we look forward to seeing our world-class engineers develop world-class innovations and breakthroughs in the year to come.
With the economic slowdown, are there currently more challenges than opportunities in the MENA region?
Economies will naturally experience periods of instability. This can be caused by a number of factors, which could affect business in the short term, however, I do believe that in the medium to long term the MENA growth story will continue.
The appetite for luxury goods shows no sign of abating in this market and the number of mega-projects in the pipeline is increasing along with the expected population growth, and as a manufacturer of premium luxury vehicles, we are well placed to capitalise on this in the years ahead.
By introducing new products to the market we are able to create new opportunities for the business, extend our line up and reach new customers across different segments.
We also continuously work to partner with government entities across the region that are well placed to provide economic stability, and are driving an increased level of growth in each of their markets.
Has your retail strategy changed to reflect the economic situation?
Jaguar Land Rover MENA continuously invests in market research programmes in the region including Brand Health studies, new product clinics for Jaguar and Land Rover, loyalty studies, New Car Buyers Surveys (NCBS) and market effectiveness across the region. We also invest in additional research to better understand regional customers and maintain high levels of customer service.
As one of the key players in the automotive industry in MENA, this research is crucial to Jaguar Land Rover and allows us to continually re-evaluate our product offering to ensure we tailor it to customers in the markets we operate in.
We have ambitious plans for the Jaguar Land Rover business and are confident that our current line up and new products to come in the future will drive sustainable growth across the MENA region.
How will the collapse of used car prices impact the market?
We do not recognize a collapse of used car prices within the market. In any mature market a reduction in used vehicle pricing leads to opportunities for new customers wishing to gain access to brands they could not previously consider.
What is at the top of the agenda for Jaguar Land Rover MENA for 2016?
2016 looks set to be a busy year for us across all areas of the business and we are on track to grow our retailer network to 64 retailers across 18 MENA markets by 2017/2018.
Our 2016 Jaguar and Land Rover line-up is by far one of our most comprehensive and impressive ones to date with exceptional products such as the Discovery Sport, the Range Rover Sport SVR, the Jaguar F-PACE, the All-New Jaguar XF and the New Jaguar XE. We look forward to seeing these resonate with customers across the region and deliver solid results.
Customization and personalization will continue to be a key focus for us this year, catering to a growing appetite for tailored products in the region through our Special Operations Division.
We are also looking forward to creating more opportunities to connect with our regional customers and engage with them on an emotional level through our region-wide Jaguar and Land Rover campaigns, ‘Art of Performance’ and ‘MYLAND’.
With several projects in the pipeline and our continued dedication to providing our customers with first class customer experiences and products, I am confident that this year will yield further business growth for Jaguar Land Rover.
What factors will drive dealer profitability in the next 3-5 years?
The host of new Jaguar Land Rover products that we will be introducing through our retailer network paired with the move to more competitive customer service offerings will play a key role in driving customer retention and business profitability over the next few years in MENA.
Our branded Financial Services Programme and our Jaguar and Land Rover APPROVED Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle Programmes are both examples of initiatives we have rolled out across our MENA retailer network as part of our expansion plans with hopes to further look after our customer’s interests.
In Saudi Arabia there has been a move to multiple dealerships from some OEMs. Do you see this spreading to other countries in the region?
We do not intend to move to multiple dealerships within MENA. We value our strong relationships with our retailer partners across the region and the performance levels that they allow us to achieve in the region.
Brand integrity, brand loyalty and brand association are key to the success and longevity of our brands and products. The selection of the right partners to support and be the custodians of our brands can be a challenge, and I would like to believe that we have done that successfully over the last few years.