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In 1994, Land Rover North America opened the first of its sole-branded dealerships to help build relationships.

"The concept is to involve the brand in the entire ownership experience," says Paul Hagan, general manager of Land Rover Centre Development.

The centers sell not only Land Rover vehicles but dozens of branded items like hiking apparel, luggage sets, boots, watches and off-road driving lessons.

"The Centre reflects the brand values of the products and the gear supports the lifestyle of the product. You feel like you're in a club," he says.

Because of Rover's low-volume U.S. sales, its dealerships were combined with other marques.

But Land Rover took notice when, in 1990, a Long Island, N.Y., dealer set up an exclusive Rover store and had tremendous results, says Mr. Hagan, 41.

Last year, Land Rover Centres accounted for about 40% of total U.S. sales for the company.

As more of Land Rover's 96 dealerships are converted, the percentage will rise, as it did in March-to 42% of total sales with 31 centers. Plus, for the first time ever, Land Rover's U.S. sales surpassed the 20,000 mark last year.

Part of the dramatic sales increase, Mr. Hagan concedes, is last year's U.S. entry of Range Rover's less-pricey Discovery, retailing for under $30,000.

Last year, Land Rover spent $4.5 million on advertising-primarily print, because it's more targeted, Mr. Hagan says. Each Land Rover Centre does its own promotions.

The advertising, from Grace & Rothschild, New York, received nominations for Magazine Publishers of America's 1994 and 1995 Kelly Awards for print creative excellence.

This year, Land Rover started sending owners its catalog in ring-binder style, so it can be opened and updated as new items are added.

Quips Mr. Hagan: "I never thought I'd hear myself talk about our spring collection."

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