Ferri taps old friend to help open Alfa Romeo dealership


OAKVILLE, ONT. – Perhaps the only thing more impressive than the stunning lineup of vehicles driven by the hundreds of VIPs that attended the opening of Maserati Alfa Romeo of Oakville was the boardroom talent that turned out to cut the ribbon.

Dealer Remo Ferri tapped his old friend to help him christen the store located roughly 30 minutes west of Toronto. It just so happens his friend is one of the most powerful and polarizing figures in the global automotive landscape – FCA Global chief, Sergio Marchionne.

The pair came of age together as Italian immigrants in the Greater Toronto Area and bonded over their love of cars. Marchionne, who admitted dealership openings are not the kind of things he does, said Ferri was a life-long friend and congratulated him on opening the store and helping restart the brand in Canada.

Held May 9, the party included live entertainment, a slew of vintage vehicles and hundreds of guests that gaped at the parking lot bulging with Italian exotics, including a Ferrari LaFerrari, and the stocked showroom inside.

The store was the previous home of Frank Apa’s and Joe Zanchin’s Lexus of Oakville. The renovated location tops out at 30,000 square feet and includes an eight-car showroom, cafe, lounge, configuration room and a six-car service drive-thru. It is also the first dealership in Canada to see Maserati and Alfa Romeo paired together.

FCA Canada president Reid Bigland was also on hand and told Canadian AutoWorld the coming expansion of the Alfa Romeo network will see additional points paired with Fiat or Maserati but never Chrysler.

“It’s a different experience; much more premium,” he said. “The average transaction price of the 4C in the U.S. is US$77,000. Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram combine for the Number 1 selling vehicle manufacturer in Canada but we play to the mass market. This is much more premium with respect to Alfa.”

Branding in the dealership was split in half with one side earmarked for Alfa and the other for Maserati. Bigland says each facility will be a little different but called the Oakville point fairly typical of what will be seen in other locations – vintage images, clean lines, premium touches and luxury finishes.

Alfa Romeo currently boasts four dealers in Canada but executives noted the network would grow to between 15 and 20 by mid-2016.

The brand will add a sedan – set for a world reveal in Milan on June 24 – to the Canadian lineup in late Q1 of next year. Bigland said aggressive product plans that include an SUV by Q1 2017 mean the dealer network in North America will have to grow accordingly.

“With respect to the 4C, we’re having a tough time keeping our existing dealers supplied,” he added.

The Remo Ferri Group of Automobiles owns and operates 11 dealerships representing 14 brands in Ontario and Alberta.