(Updates with analyst comment in fifth paragraph.)
June 20 (Bloomberg) -- Maserati, the maker of exotic cars driven by the likes of designer Ralph Lauren, will double its dealership network to about 500 by 2015 to sustain demand for its Ghibli and Quattroporte luxury sedans.
“You need them to support the growth,” Maserati Chief Executive Officer Harald Wester said in an interview with Bloomberg Television yesterday in Modena, Italy, where the carmaker presented an exhibition to celebrate its 100-year anniversary. The brand had 250 sales outlets in 2011.
Fiat SpA is investing in Maserati as part of a plan to boost global sales of Italian-made luxury models to end losses in Europe. The manufacturer targets lifting Maserati’s sales nearly fivefold to 75,000 vehicles in 2018. The brand is already set to match 2013’s full-year deliveries of 15,400 vehicles by the end of June, Wester said.
That type of growth justifies “the investments we did and gives us a sort of confidence for further investments and further projects,” Wester said.
The growing network “confirms that Maserati is definitely moving in the right direction,” said Georges Dieng, a Paris- based analyst with Natixis. “It’s still a long way to go to reach the very ambitious target they’ve set for themselves.”
Maserati plans to more than triple revenue to 6 billion euros ($8.2 billion) in 2018 as it introduces new models, including its first ever sport-utility vehicle and the Alfieri sports car. The brand’s cheapest model currently is the $66,900 Ghibli. With prices at that level, the profit margin needs to be “double digit,” Wester said yesterday.
The Italian carmaker is considering a production increase of about 20 percent to keep up with demand, people familiar with the matter said last week. The boost in output, including the transfer of 500 workers to Maserati’s factory from other Fiat plants, was put on hold because of a dispute over labor contracts, the Fismic union said yesterday. That could hamper the brand’s ability to maintain growth rates in Asia.
“China and the Asia Pacific region is the second strongest center of gravity for our business” after the U.S., Wester said. “For the last couple of years, we sold 800 cars in these markets in a year. Right now, we are selling this amount of cars in a month.”
--With assistance from Elisabeth Behrmann in Munich.