We have BMW, Rolls-Royce, Mini, Ferrari, Maserati, Land Rover and London Taxi.
And which is Bahrain’s favourite?
There’s not really a favourite, we pride ourselves on being the industry leader in each of the sectors we serve. Each of our brands is the most prestigious in its field from Land Rover and Range Rover to Maserati and Rolls Royce. It’s about qualifying what the customer wants and making sure we give it to them.
What makes Bahrainis (and the island’s ex-pat population) love their cars so much?
For a start, car ownership here is not as difficult as it is, for example, in Europe. Petrol is much cheaper, registration, taxes and insurance are also less expensive. Historically, we Bahrainis have a love affair with cars that goes back many years and having the Formula 1 track here has nurtured that, not just with the big race but also with the complementary automotive programmes which run at the race track. For example we recently held a private event there for Ferrari owners, and those interested in purchasing the brand, in which instructors were flown over from Ferrari in Italy to show them how to get the very best out of their cars, our customers also take part in track days and that sort of thing.
I wouldn’t say they necessarily aspire to be racing drivers, but for those that do want to go fast we aim, with events like these, to show them how to do it safely. For our other customers, we aim to encourage them to stay safe on the roads. But what I would say, going back to the Bahraini love affair with cars, is that we are an aspirational people, always aiming to improve ourselves – I believe Bahrainis aspire to an amazing lifestyle and luxury cars are part of that.
What do you drive and what do you aspire to?
I currently have a BMW M3 which is a great drive. I love the BMW because you can really feel the quality, when you sit in one it just feels different to other cars and each new model feels different to the last – there is a real sense that the designers take on board what people want when they set out to design a new model, it feels as if they have really thought of everything. Of all our brands I don’t have a personal favourite but I have to admit that one day I aspire to a Rolls-Royce because I appreciate the history of the brand, the craftsmanship and the effort that it will take to own one.
How has business been affected with both the economic downturn and the ongoing political situation?
It’s been a very challenging year for us, as it has for many other industries, but we’ve helped to reintroduce a business vibe by bringing in promotions as well as strengthening the luxury sector. People are cautious about expenditure and there’s no doubt that a new car is a major expenditure which people will avoid in tough times if they can. So it’s fair to say we have seen a minor decline but there’s still a strong demand for the products we sell.
You took over your current role in marketing last spring, it must have been a challenging first year?
Taking on the job at such a challenging time, from my point of view, is welcome. I would rather take on the challenge first thing and deal with it than to start off with plain sailing and then, when the challenge comes, not know what to do.