EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story understated Jaguar Land Rover’s Canadian sales through eight months of 2017. Sales are up 18.5 per cent.
Jaguar Land Rover is committed to adding six more stores to the Canadian marketplace in the short term, bringing the total number here to 32, JLR North America CEO Joe Eberhardt said Thursday.
The luxury automaker, which currently has 26 stores in Canada, has selected five more dealership locations.
“We have had the presentations by the dealer groups that are applying for those. I think we’re about to make the first announcements in the next couple weeks,” Eberhardt said during an interview at Automotive News in Detroit.
Neither Eberhardt or JLR Canada spokesman John Lindo would reveal the locations of the five new stores. Lindo did say the automaker plans to add one more after those five are announced, bringing the total number of JLR stores in Canada to the automaker’s desired 32.
Eberhardt said JLR tries to balance consumer convenience and dealer profitability when expanding. In the U.S., for example, fewer JLR dealers means the ones that exist remain profitable, Eberhardt said.
All new Canadian stores will adhere to the automaker’s global and mandatory corporate identity program, called Arch, which was announced in 2016.
The new Arch exterior colour is called "sunshine grey," for both brands. Gone are the flying cat statues at some Jaguar stores and the white-and-green exteriors of Land Rover dealerships. Eberhardt described the conjoined Jaguar and Land Rover buildings as “jewel boxes” when the new concept was revealed.
U.S. dealers are currently undergoing renovations to the price of US$100 to US$220 per square foot, depending on whether the project is a renovation or new construction. There is less pressure on Canadian stores to follow suit.
“Canada is in a slightly different position because they had an arch-like design before. It wasn’t 100 per cent what it’s like now, but they’re much closer already to what the design is,” Eberhardt said. “As we build new, it’s a completely new arch design.”
Older Canadian dealerships will eventually be upgraded, but the need to do so is “not immediate,” Eberhardt said.
Total Jaguar Land Rover sales are up 18.5 per cent to 9,218 vehicles in Canada through the first eight months of 2017. The increase has come largely on the strength of Jaguar sales, which are up 88 per cent.
“I think the team as done a great job. We have a retailer network that is up to standard and already consolidated,” Eberhardt said of Canada. “They do a phenomenal job. Every year, we set the next [sales] record.”
Total Canadian new vehicle sales are expected to reach a record two million units this year, and Eberhardt said that trend “defies the development in the U.S., for sure.”
“The [Canadian] market has grown in both cars and SUVs, interestingly enough,” Eberhardt said. “I’m not really 100 per cent sure what the underlying drivers and strengths are for the development. If you look at the economics, yes, they’re positive, but not more or less so than anywhere else in the world.”
Greg Layson and Automotive News contributed to this report.