Work about to start on new Alfa Romeo store

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By Jackson Hayes

Chrysler executives have been tightlipped about the retail strategy it will employ when Alfa Romeo returns to North America this summer.

And while Windsor and Auburn Hills don’t seem to be sharing, at least one Canadian dealer is preparing for the iconic Italian brand’s comeback.

Luxury car dealer Remo Ferri is about to start renovations on a new store in Oakville, Ont. The point will retail both Maserati and the 2015 4C, Alfa Romeo’s first model to return to Canada.

Ferri bought the location from fellow dealer Frank Apa earlier this year. The 16,000-square foot building was previously the home of Lexus of Oakville, which was set to move into a new facility in late May.

Ferri said work would start as soon as he takes possession. He hopes to have the new store up and running by September, adding that renovations are expected to cost roughly $1 million.

“We are already in Toronto, Mississauga and in Vaughn, so it is natural to go to Oakville as there is a great environment there. I think the luxury brands do well there. Everybody’s there,” Ferri said, noting to a cluster of dealerships along the Queen Elizabeth Way that include Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Acura, Audi, Cadillac and Porsche.

Chrysler turned heads this past April at the New York Auto Show when it revealed the Alfa Romeo destined for North American roads. The sleek, high-performance 4C has an ultra-lightweight architecture and includes Formula 1 technology.

Powered by an all-new 1,750 cc direct-injection, 237-horsepower aluminum engine, the car borrows some technical and industrial expertise from Maserati. Given the close development partnership the brands have shared, it comes as little surprise the nameplates will share showroom space as well – at least in Oakville.

When asked for more information about Alfa Romeo’s retail plans, executives with Chrysler Canada said they were unable to comment.Chrysler Canada president Reid Bigland told Canadian AutoWorld in a separate interview in February that Alfa Romeo would be sold through the country’s Fiat studios but exactly what stores would get to sell the cars remained to be seen.

In an early May presentation to investors, dealers and the media, Alfa Romeo brand chief Harald Wester revealed the company plans to spend approximately 5 billion euros by 2018 for research and development, manufacturing and product-related investments on new Alfa model production.

The global target has been set at 400,000 units retailed annually by 2018, more than “fivefold” current volume.

Wester also revealed the brand would launch a mid-size sedan in the fourth quarter of 2015. Another six models are set to follow between 2016 and 2018 including new compact, mid-sized and full-sized sedans along with two utility vehicles and what is most likely another high-performance specialty nameplate.

And while some analysts have questioned whether the bet on upscale and sporty Alfa Romeo can help Chrysler in North America in the same vein Audi has helped Volkswagen, Ferri for one, is confident that his old friend Sergio Marchionne is on the right path.

“I think Alfa is a great name with a tremendous history. I think there’s potential,” he said, noting the additional product should help drive volume and profits for dealers in the coming years.

As for the Maserati side of the business, Ferri said he hopes to build on the growing success he has seen at his other Maserati points, Maserati of Ontario and Maserati of Calgary.

He admitted that while the luxury brand hadn’t traditionally moved much volume in the past, new product and a concentrated marketing plan from the automaker has him well on his way to delivering over 400 cars in Ontario this year.

“As it stands with the Ghibli and the new Quattroporte, we do an average of 25 cars a month already. Oakville will definitely open up a new market for us and we are looking to increase that by 50 per cent,” he said.

Construction plans in Oakville, roughly 45 minutes west of Toronto, include minor alterations to the back shop, parts department and service reception. Most of the work will focus on the façade and the showroom, which will be revamped with new tiles, colours and more.

As if that were not enough to deal with, Ferri also revealed he was recently awarded the chance to build a new Rolls Royce store in Calgary. He said he already owns a plot of land and is currently working with the city on securing permits. Construction on that facility, Rolls Royce’s fourth dealership in Canada, should start sometime in July.

“I love luxury brands. I grew up with sports cars and it’s a great addition to have Rolls Royce with us. It compliments all my other brands,” he said.

The Remo Ferri Group of Automobiles currently owns nine dealerships representing 12 brands.