EDMONTON, ALTA. – The Alberta economy remains sluggish, but Audi Edmonton North is off to a solid start.
The dealership, a new point for Audi in Edmonton’s west end, opened in late June and held a grand opening in August. Jim Pattison Auto Group built the new store, its first location in Alberta.
“The first six months have been great,” says Sean Hebdon, Audi Edmonton North general manager. “We are gaining ground and awareness in the marketplace.”
The plan had been to open in April, but that was delayed until June, which had an impact.
“We have fallen slightly short for 2015 expectations due to opening two months late,” Hebdon adds. “We are optimistic about the coming year.”
However, Bill Harbottle, Pattison Automotive Group president, says the store met monthly targets in 2015.
The tough economy has not dampened the group’s enthusiasm for the Alberta market. The price of crude oil has fallen from the US$100 range to $30 in the last 18 months, a major factor in thousands of job losses in Alberta.
“We’re absolutely very interested in expanding in Alberta,” Harbottle says. “We realize the economy is not that strong right now, but we’re confident that it will turn around.”
The Pattison Group will keep its eyes and ears open for possibilities to add stores in Alberta. Those could occur for a variety of reasons including succession issues at a dealership or a store where an owner might not want to make the kind of investment a manufacturer suggests.
Harbottle notes the company always looks long term and plans for the 20 to 25-year range as opposed to just the next three or four.
Audi Edmonton North, located next to a BMW dealership, marks a significant change for Audi in the Edmonton market.
For years, Edmonton’s only Audi dealership shared space with a Volkswagen franchise. That Audi store now has its own building in south Edmonton, while Audi Edmonton North has become part of the city’s expanding luxury vehicle market.
The store is the newest retail centre in Western Canada for the brand. The 38,000-square-foot building features a 12-vehicle showroom, 16 service bays and a service drive-thru that can accommodate four vehicles.
The store’s mezzanine level includes a café and a lounge overlooking the showroom. There is also a customer lounge on the main level, a parts boutique and vehicle delivery area.
“We are increasing the [Audi] market share in Edmonton and are confident this will continue. We are able to properly service an area of the market that previously had no representation,” Hebdon explains.
He says the dealership is trying to combat difficult economic conditions by providing “an exceptional guest experience” and is “fortunate in having a broad product range that appeals to the marketplace.”
Alberta is a market where SUVS are strong sellers, a trend that has helped the new store.
“We have had success with the entire sport utility lineup through 2015. We have seen great interest in the all-new, redesigned 2017 Q7, which has just been released and is working towards taking a large piece of the luxury, full-size SUV market,” he says.
Audi owners who live nearby have helped build the service business since the new dealership is considerably closer than the other Audi store.
“We are busier by the week,” Hebdon says. “We are focusing to ensure that we have sufficient technicians to shorten the wait time for service to under two days.”
Building pre-owned inventory is proving to be a challenge for the new dealership. Management notes used volume is tough to acquire as a new open point along with strong U.S. demand thanks to the disparity in the dollar.
“We are actively working with our conquest guests to take their vehicles in on trade. Fortunately, we have 23 dealerships in our group to draw on.”