Proton Edar remains distributor of national car

Maintaining only 5 branches, company aims to add 15 more 3S and 4S outlets this year to its dealership network compared to 140 in 2020

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by TMR FILE

PROTON Edar Sdn Bhd will remain as the distributor arm for the national car brand, despite having sold most of its branches to new investors last year.

Proton Edar CEO Roslan Abdullah said the move was part of the company’s business restructuring plan, which is also in tandem with the practices of most automotive players globally.

He added that while Proton Edar is maintaining only five branches under its arm, the company is now set to groom its dealership network to ensure customers’ needs are fulfilled from pre-sales to after sales services.

In the past four years, Proton Edar planned to focus on establishing and expanding its one-stop centres — namely 3S (sales, service and spare parts) and 4S (sales, service, spare parts, and body and paint services) outlets, which Roslan said will be better managed by entrepreneurs instead of the principal.

“It is about business efficiency and productivity. Dealers are managed by businessmen who make swift decisions to ensure profit-making.

“In Malaysia, we can say most of the industry players are going into this direction, as well,” Roslan told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in an interview.

In September last year, TMR reported that Proton Holdings Bhd would be selling over 30 of Proton Edar’s branches to new investors before trimming the network further to only four outlets.

Roslan, who is also Proton sales and marketing VP, confirmed the news and said only five outlets, including its headquarters in Shah Alam will remain under Proton Edar. The other four branches are in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru, Ipoh and Kota Baru.

“Prior to this, we had a total of 54 branches comprising 1S (sales), 2S (service and spare parts) and 3S outlets. As of November last year, we have transferred 49 branches to the new dealers.”

Roslan added that with many of the outlets providing 1S services, Proton will assist the dealers to upgrade their facilities to 3S outlets.

Proton managed to establish 140 3S and 4S dealership facilities last year, compared to 120 in 2019. This year, the automaker’s distributor arm is targeting to add 15 more 3S and 4S outlets.

“Meanwhile, the five outlets under Proton Edar will be of our own model in the retail business, which the dealers can follow,” Roslan said.

He said the business transfer to the new dealers is evidence of investors’ confidence in the brand after it successfully launched the X70 in December 2018, which marked the rebirth of Proton.

Proton started the journey to enhance its 3S dealership network since partnering Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd in June 2017.

The national automaker navigated bumpy roads in convincing its existing dealers to spend millions in upgrading showrooms and service centres in the regeneration plan. Among others, Proton introduced a lower entry point, with lower capital outlay, for dealers to get on board.

While the previous minimum 3S requirement was 1,700 sq m of built-up area, Proton then introduced smaller tiers, with the lowest tier only requiring new players to invest in a total of 700sqm for a 3S outlet.

“We also incentivise the newcomers with multiple schemes, so they can start and further sustain their businesses,” Roslan said.

With the growing number of showrooms and service centres, Roslan expects the distribution arm to register higher sales this year compared to 2020.

Last week, Proton announced that it closed 2020 with a total of 109,716 vehicles sold throughout the year — an 8.8% growth over the 100,821 units sold in 2019.

As a result, the carmaker’s market share climbed 4.4% to an estimated 21.1%, behind Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd.

In December, Proton sold 13,306 units of vehicles, a healthy increase of 1,895 units from the 11,411 cars sold in November.

The Saga was the bestseller last year with 46,527 units sold, followed by the Persona with 23,917 units. The Persona was also the bestselling B-segment sedan in 2020.

Read our earlier report

The end of Proton Edar?