Daewoo is last global automaker to enter Ireland

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DUBLIN -- South Korean company Daewoo, the last major global auto manufacturer not represented in Ireland, is on course to enter this market.

Under a new deal, Daewoo will begin the sale and distribution of its cars in Ireland from January 1999, under a franchise agreement reached with Irish company Daewoo Ireland, which is owned and managed by Gerard O'Toole, the current chairman of Nissan Ireland.

Mr. O'Toole denies any conflict of interest. "The two operations will be completely separate," he says. "Daewoo will be using a different dealership network, and there will be a different brand marketing ethos."

Daewoo hopes to secure a 1.5% share of the Irish car market within 12 months and 5% within 5 years, according to Mr. O'Toole. "The first task we must complete is to establish a national dealership network. We estimate that we will need to spend $10 million to launch the new Daewoo brand in Ireland," he says.

The national network will comprise "new" dealerships, and dealers operating multifranchises will not be recruited. "We want exclusivity," says Mr. O'Toole. "Dealers will be selling the full range of Daewoo cars, including Lanos, Nubira, Leganza and Matiz."

Copyright July 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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