MARKET DRIVER

Ecuador 2013 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Francisco Javier Restrepo Palacios, CEO of Corporación Maresa, on the creation of the company and its distribution network.

Francisco Javier Restrepo Palacios
BIOGRAPHY
Francisco Javier Restrepo Palacios has been involved in the automotive industry since 1985. He is currently CEO of Corporación Maresa, and also serves as Board Member at companies in which Corporación Maresa has a share participation, such as Mazmotors-Maresacenter, Autosharecorp, AVIS, GPS Track, and Maresa Colombia. He is a mechanical engineer with a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Business Administration.

What led to the creation of Corporación Maresa in Ecuador, and how has the group evolved since?

The Maresa Group started its operations with Maresa, an assembling company, over 35 years ago. We started assembling Mack trucks, and over the years incorporated other clients and products, such as Fiat and its vehicles and trucks, as well as Mitsubishi, Mazda, Toyota, and Ford, some of which we no longer work with. However, the success story behind our group shows that, thanks to our evolution, we established other business divisions like leasing for Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, and the automotive division, in which we have constantly grown our clients' portfolio. Our main objective has been to widen our business activity in order to cover all the market's needs and demand, both product- and service-wise. Today, we are the official distributor for Fiat, Chrysler, and Mazda nationwide, and for Ford on the coast and in eastern Ecuador. For the other brands we work with, we mostly perform specific distribution or commercialization activities. In terms of percentages, we distribute 35% of Mazda vehicles and 100% of Fiat and Chrysler vehicles.

What specific role does each of these brands play in your global activity?

Currently, Mazda plays the most important role in our group's activities, as we have long managed its operations in Ecuador. For example, Chrysler and Fiat have been with us since 2012, and, therefore, their weight in our overall activities is rather low, especially because they are subject to import quotas established by the government. However, our main goal for the near future is to consolidate their activities and brands in the market, while we expect the authorities to lift the import quota.

What is the company's growth strategy?

Our strategy in the distribution segment is to become as multi-brand as possible, in order to cater to the market with different products. Regarding the assembling business line, we aim to operate at full capacity in the near future. With Mazda, for example, we assemble vehicles that are locally sold, and also export to Venezuela; however, we do not operate at 100% capacity. In this context, we want to close a partnership deal with another automotive brand to start assembling its vehicles at our plant and then try to operate at full capacity. Among our top priorities is the consolidation of our companies' mission to meet consumer needs. For that reason, we need to further strengthen our post-sales services. Maresa Group was established with that purpose; to serve the needs and demands of consumers while bringing together the wide portfolio of brands we represent. We also expect to close partnership agreements with other related companies in the industry, such as insurance companies or banks, which would enable us to offer a comprehensive package of services to our clients. Such a step would enable us to generate further value-added for our services, and the brand in general, in the consumer's eye. We would also like to increase the segments in which we operate in Ecuador, such as low-price cars.

What role do exports play in your distribution activity?

Last year, we assembled 12,000 vehicles, 5,000 of which were exported to Venezuela. In this regard, we are open to looking at export activities to neighboring countries; with Mazda, the activity is solely focused on Venezuela. Maresa also operates in Colombia and Peru, though this activity is purely focused on the leasing division of our business. Currently, our leasing division represents 10% of our overall activity, whereas the automotive assembly and distribution division represents 90%.

What are the competitive advantages of Maresa Group as compared to its main competitors?

We are the only company offering the multi-brand business concept to its clients under the Maresa Group umbrella. We complement this with our capacity, training, and post-sales services.

What is the company's expected turnover for 2013?

We aim at closing the year with a $350 million Group turnover. If we break down the figure into national and international operations, I could tell you that, nationally, we will close the year with similar figures to 2012, as we must keep in mind the so-called import quotas, which pose a barrier to our growth in the domestic market. For that reason, exports and rental activities are driving the Group's growth today. In this context, the size of the Ecuadorean automotive market stands at around 145,000 units per year, and, right now, supply in the automotive industry cannot meet demand, especially because of the quotas.