Michelin Man: Al Fahim open branded service centre

PMV meets Al Fahim’s team to discuss the launch of Abu Dhabi’s first Michelin Truck Service Centre.

INTERVIEWS, PMV

Central Motors & Equipment (CME), an Al Fahim Group firm, officially opened the first Michelin Truck Service Centre (MTSC) in Abu Dhabi this month, located in the industrial district of Mussafah.

Ahmed Abdul Jalil Al Fahim, chairman of Al Fahim Group, led the ceremony, attended by Frank Bernthaler, CEO of Al Fahim Automotive, Sumit Chordia, GM of CME, and Oussama Jlailati, Michelin brand manager at CME, alongside representatives from Michelin, including Franck Barge, Michelin distribution manager for the Middle East, and Srinivas Chitturi, MTSC regional programme manager.

Ahmed Al Fahim took the opportunity to note: “I am proud that our CME, Michelin’s sole distributor in the emirate, is cementing its footprint in the market. Developments have prompted us to invest over $545,000 in this aftermarket truck centre and its advanced tools.”

France’s Michelin has been developing its aftersales presence in the region for a while, witnessing the opening of the first MTSC in the region back in 2009. It has since expanded its service centre programme to include 20 tyre-fitting and maintenance facilities across the UAE, KSA and Oman — 21 including the Abu Dhabi facility — and by the end of 2015, expects to have a total of 25 catering to its customers.

Jlailati explained, “Spread over 900m2, the MTSC is equipped with a computerised truck-tyre alignment machine, truck-tyre balancing and repair machines, and a range of other tyre-related services for trucks and buses alike.”

Chitturi added: “This strategic investment will help Michelin and CME to grow faster in the dynamic transportation sector. It will improve the availability of Michelin products, and help to meet the growing expectations of transporters for quality products and services.”

A pair of Michelin Tyreplus branches were also opened in Musaffah by Fouad Al Chami, owner of National Tyre Fitment Centre — in its 23rd outlet in the UAE and 10th in Abu Dhabi.

MEETING THE TEAM

Speaking with Jlailati about the development of the tyre products and services segment for CME, he noted: “We have witnessed growth in these categories in 2015 compared to 2014 in the entire Emirate of Abu Dhabi. If we look at Abu Dhabi city, there was a visible 18% increase in demand, while Al Ain saw a 9% rise.

“As a result, we decided to expand our services to accommodate this growth, and in this instance our strategy was also in line with the strategy of Michelin’s regional operation for the Michelin Truck Service Centre franchise.

“Michelin’s strategy is to launch new products exhibiting high safety features, long-life, reliability, and excellent grip capabilities.”

In terms of the way the business is currently varying across different tyre segments, Jlailati highlighted that the commercial and heavy vehicles segment is highly dependent on developments taking place in Abu Dhabi at any time.

“Requests from construction and transportation companies are our main indicator for a boost in the market. In terms of servicing for off-highway vehicles, they are on the rise this year, confirming that the opening of MTSC was a sound decision,” he affirmed.

Following through

Jlailati further noted that a consumer-focused strategy remains particularly important in the industry, and that “one of the most significant exercises is visiting the customer at their location, in order to follow up on product quality and ensure that service standards are being met, and in turn help ensure that the customers maintain a low cost-per-kilometre”.

He continued: “More than just adding services to our product line, we are promoting awareness on tyre safety through various activities, including regular visits to our customers across the capital to carry out fleet inspections and check tyre condition and pressure. We also distribute road safety leaflets to every driver.”

In terms of distribution, CME is meanwhile planing to continue expanding its services to the commercial industry, especially in the more remote areas of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Jlailati added: “Various factors influence customer decision-making, but among the most significant are the peace of mind that comes from a high quality service and the knowledge that driver and truck safety are maintained.”

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS

Lending his thoughts to the timing of the launch, Chordia notes: “We see more trucks on the road, amd we are observing a corresponding increase in the demand for truck servicing, so we are looking at an even larger volume in the future. We have jobs with various contractors working in real estate, tourism and in infrastructure. Large developments have given us confidence in investing in expanding our services to include commercial vehicles.”

Bernthaler adds: “We are advancing to a new chapter at Al Fahim Automotive to accommodate the market’s fluctuating trends and have put growth strategies in place for all our automotive business units. In the next couple of months, we will be opening new branches across the emirate.

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