Volvo Trucks Southern Africa is expanding its footprint in Gauteng and opening a new workshop facility in Alrode, South of Gauteng.

The workshop will open its doors in October 2016. The reason for the new site is to improve breakdown response time for customers and to improve capacity and service output in the region.

“We have identified the increased population in the area and the need for another service and parts workshop in the Gauteng region,” says Torbjorn Christensson, President, Volvo Group Southern Africa. “Customer service is our top priority and we want to match our superior product to superior customer service. There are many benefits for our customers such as quicker turnaround time, quality output, shorter queuing times, availability of parts, and readily available access to workshops in the region to name just a few. Our aim is to increase the capacity handling of our workshops to match world class Volvo Trucks standards,” adds Christensson.

The company has also taken the decision to sell two of its dealerships, namely Polokwane and Port Elizabeth. The move to sell these dealerships forms part of the company’s decision to have a combination of dealerships that are wholly owned as well as some that are franchised. “There are many benefits of this approach such as capital investment by the buying companies to improve the operations, which will result in improved facilities for both branches. We have partnered with companies who we believe will contribute to the image and brand building of Volvo Trucks Southern Africa,” says Christensson.

One of the criteria in the agreement was also done in line with improving the company’s broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) ratings. “We have made massive inroads in areas such as management control and supplier development, however, the one area that has always eluded us is ownership. Previously our efforts were hindered, however, after a series of meetings between various stakeholders including Government; we are now able to transfer ownership of two of our wholly owned dealerships to B-BBEE companies. This improves our current B-BBEE scores drastically, while not compromising on the service levels of our loyal customers,” says Christensson.

Volvo Polokwane has been acquired by a company called Lereko Motors. The group was established in 2004 as a black-owned investment company, with the founders being Dr. Popo Molefe, Valli Moosa, and the late Eric Molobi, adding to the credibility of its staff complement was the appointment of Dr. Lulu Gwanga as Chief Operating officer (COO). The founding members of Lereko Motors have managed to build a diverse portfolio of investments while also being able to benefit women’s groups as well as public benefit organizations.

Lereko Motors have partnered with the Imperial Group to manage the dealership on their behalf.

At present, the planned date for the transfer of ownership is set for the 1st of October 2016. The Polokwane dealership will continue to operate at its current premises for a month or two while exciting new premises are being renovated for them.

Similarly, the Port Elizabeth franchise will remain in its current location for a year while a brand new custom designed site is constructed for them and will contribute to the upliftment of Nelson Mandela Bay’s development projects. The Port Elizabeth franchise will also be owned by a black-owned entity and managed by Billson Trucks – in the Deal Party industrial area of Nelson Mandela Bay; Billson Trucks has a solid reputation in the industry in Port Elizabeth. Billson’s has an extensive regional footprint and operates in an area that is bordered to the northeast, north, and west by East London, Graaff-Reinet, and Knysna. The new site will bring investment to the value of R100 million.

“We hope that our customers are as excited as we are to be part of the change of the business landscape in South Africa with the change of ownership of both the Polokwane and Port Elizabeth dealerships. All the staff of both dealerships will retain their posts, so customers can look forward to receiving the same level of dedicated service from faces they are familiar with and have built relationships with in both locations,” concludes Christensson.

Volvo Trucks will have a network of 19 workshops in South Africa of which seven are independently operated.