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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Servco adds Australian dealership

By Greg Wiles
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Servco, the nation's 44th largest dealer group, sees parallels between business styles in Hawai'i and Australia.

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Servco Pacific Inc. is expanding in Australia once again, buying a majority interest in a Toyota dealership in the fast-growing Queensland city of Caloundra.

The addition of Sunshine Toyota brings to three the number of dealerships owned by Honolulu-based Servco in Australia and makes it one of the largest dealership groups in Queensland.

Servco said it is looking to add more dealerships in Australia.

"It's part of our overall strategy of doing more in Australia and in particular looking at acquiring Toyota dealerships there," said Mark Fukunaga, chairman and chief executive officer of Servco, which is the 44th largest U.S. dealer group, with Toyota, Lexus, Scion, Suzuki, Chevrolet and Subaru dealerships in Hawai'i.

"The economy as well as the auto market there is relatively strong."

Servco began its expansion into Australia in December 2007 with the purchase of a majority stake in Downtown Toyota in Brisbane, a city of about 2 million. Last year it bought an interest in Pacific Toyota/Lexus in Cairns, a regional center in the far north of Queensland that's considered the departure point for tourists headed for the Great Barrier Reef.

Caloundra has a population of about 90,000 and is considered the southern gateway to Queensland's Sunshine Coast. The dealership, located about 60 miles north of Brisbane, has won awards for outstanding performance from Toyota Motor Corp. of Australia.

Fukunaga said the Sunshine acquisition fit with Servco's criteria for purchases it's in a growing area with strong demographics and had a talented general manager.

Servco said it is retaining Ian McDowell as dealer principal and managing director of the dealership as well as keeping him as a minority owner.

The recently renovated dealership carries an inventory of about 400 vehicles and about 100 employees.

McDowell will also join Servco Australia, the company through which Servco is expanding in the country. Servco has said Australia is part of the company's long-term strategy and represents a source of future revenue, profits and growth.

Servco's management team in the country is headed by Nigel Tyler, who previously oversaw dealer development for Toyota in Australia.

"We find a lot in common with the Australian way of doing business with what we do in Hawai'i," Fukunaga said.