* Talks underway with three potential dealerships
* Guava International calls Vietnam promising market
* ASEAN trade move opens door to regional production
By Paul Carsten
BANGKOK, Nov 29 Land Rover vehicles in the
hundreds have found their way into Myanmar over the past year as
the country has opened up. Now Jaguar Land Rover's partner for
Southeast Asia is laying the groundwork for its first official
foray into the territory.
Discussions are under way with three potential dealership
partners in Myanmar and official sales should begin in 2013,
Dale Jones, chief executive officer of Guava International, told
Reuters at the 29th Thailand Motor Expo.
"Everyone's trying to understand what is the right way to
compete, how do you set up business. The market is changing very
quickly, (there are) a lot of new policies in place. We see that
as an excellent opportunity," Jones said.
Jaguar Land Rover is owned by Tata Motors Ltd.
Myanmar, for half a century a pariah state, began a series
of reforms when its junta stepped aside in 2011. With the
suspension of Western sanctions and a new investment law, the
country, strategically situated between economic powerhouses
China and India, is becoming a magnet for overseas firms.
The government started a "cars for clunkers" system late
last year, allowing people to trade in old cars for licences
allowing them to purchase models built no earlier than 1995.
Guava International, which operates Jaguar Land Rover sales
and services across more than 60 countries in Europe, Asia and
Africa, has seen sales in Thailand this year outperform overall
growth in the luxury car sector.
Year-on-year sales of the high-end Range Rover model are up
60 percent compared to an estimated 15 to 20 percent growth for
the sector overall.
With a new Range Rover model for Thailand announced at the
motor show on Wednesday, Guava projects year-on-year sales in
2013 will increase 30 percent, meaning total retail sales of
between 200 and 250 units.
Jones declined to give a sales target for Myanmar, but he
said Vietnam is also a future bright spot for the luxury sports
utility vehicle, despite a slowdown in sales this year.
"We see the forecasts for the next three years continuing to
grow significantly," said Jones. "With new products and the
economic growth, we see growth surpassing 30 percent.
Jaguar Land Rover's gaze is focused upon Southeast Asia in
general in light of the ASEAN Economic Community due to come
into effect at the end of 2015.
"With the elimination of the trade barriers around all ASEAN
markets, it will make Jaguar Land Rover look to the region to
see if we should be having manufacturing capacity, be taking
advantage of this large, single free-trade market," Jones said.
"I can't answer for Jaguar Land Rover, but I know there are
studies at this point to understand the market and be able to
understand what is the best action to take. I would expect
(Editing by Alan Raybould and Matt Driskill)