Inchcape CEO, Sanjiv Shah gave us a free ride about his new role and what Inchcape has in store for Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenya will become Inchcape’s second market in Africa after Ethiopia where it currently deals in several brands including Toyota and Hino.

  • On July, Inchcape Plc, announced it would be taking over the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) dealership in Kenya after buying out the operation from RMA Group.
  • Inchcape, which already sells JLR brands in the UK, has 93 years experience in the automotive sector with operations in 31 countries across five markets.
  • Business Insider Sub-Saharan recently had a sit down interview with the former RMA Kenya CEO and the new Inchcape Kenya, Uganda CEO,

RMA first entered the Kenyan market in 2013 after it took JLR franchise from CMC Holdings.

Inchcape, which already sells JLR brands in the UK, has 93 years experience in the automotive sector with operations in 31 countries across five markets.

Furthermore, the London-based distributor listed on the London Stock Exchange since 1958, represents the Jaguar and LandRover brands in 12 markets including Kenya.

Business Insider Sub-Saharan recently had a sit down interview with the former RMA Kenya CEO and the new Inchcape Kenya, Uganda CEO, Mr. Sanjiv Shah about his new role and how he plans to steer Inchcape in Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Business Insider SSA (BISSA): Before we get started perhaps as the immediate former CEO of RMA Kenya could you please break it down for us how RMA exited the Kenyan market and how Inchcape entered East Africa’s biggest economy?

Sanjiv Shah (SS): As you know RMA is actually based in Bangkok, Thailand as well as the head office for RMA, as a result of that majority of their market is around south-east Asia so its Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia etc. so for RMA to have invested here five years ago was a pioneering move and it has been a very successful operation as you can see from the sales successes that we had, the numbers, volumes and the market share.

Jaguar Land Rover has grown as a result of that but going forward if we look at the strategy  it only made more sense for RMA to expand and grow in its core markets which is South East Asia, so there came the opportunity for RMA to consider selling and for a new entrant who would be more as I would call it African centric and more specifically Sub-Saharan African centric to come in and buy a successful business and actually that is the background of what has happen it has taken us six months to put the deal together.

BISSA: So there is no cause for alarm and its business as usual for Jaguar Land rover lovers and owners within East Africa?

SS:Biashara kama kawaida (business as usual) that what I would say because it’s just an ownership change so it’s actually not location change, brand change, job losses nothing like that, it’s purely that the owners of the business are Inchcape Kenya limited now as opposed to RMA Kenya.

BISSA: How excited are you to begin this yet another motoring journey?

SS: I am very excited to begin this journey because it is yet another foreign company investing into our country Kenya, it has not only secured the current Kenyan jobs but above and beyond that it gonna give  a lot more Kenyans opportunities to grow with the growing business model and what excites me is that because Inchcape is a global business we don’t know how many of our bright Kenyan will end up in Inchcape businesses around the world but I would like to keep our bright Kenyans in my Kenyan operations (breaks into an infectious smile)

BISSA: So what is your role now as the CEO of Inchcape Kenya, Uganda?

SS:  My job at RMA Kenya was to head operations in Kenya, my job at Inchcape Kenya doesn’t change it’s still the same and I am the head of business and to add to that  we are going to take the operations in time to come into Uganda and other regional countries but Sub-Saharan and  East African market focused.

BISSA: How do you intend to do this?

SS:  What we would do is we would use the opportunity to grow with other brands as well,  so our main brand is Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and then to add into this business model it is very likely that some point next year we will take on at least one other brand so that is actually the background into the thinking that led to the sale of RMA and purchase  of the business by Inchcape, there is no business disruptions.

BISSA: So moving forward what is Inchcape strategy for the Kenyan market and in extension the Sub-Saharan market?

SS: The first thing we want to do is go through the transition and have business   continuity so one might say well what the challenge in business continuity? It’s not so much about challenge in continuity but  it is we have the systems to change and invoicing  and so on so for all the accounting and things like that. The strategy going forward is to grow from our current position, strengthen that position and remain the number one premium brand in our region, Jaguar Land Rover has been the number one premium brand in Kenya for the last three years running, we have had competition, there is competition out there and it’s good because it keeps us alive and awake but we still like to be number one.

BISSA:  AS an authority in this motoring space what would you say are some of the opportunities found in this corner of the world and what makes the African market particularly attractive?

SS: The opportunities in our continent are great in a way we are a growing continent, we are not an old economy that is tired and talking about exiting certain marketplaces like some of the other developed markets so as a continent in Sub-Saharan Africa from an opportunities view we see and now I speak as Inchcape we see a lot of opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa driven by a growing middle class with an appetite for luxury or branded goods.

A lot of Kenyans are also genuinely car enthusiasts; I see them on the road you know they may be in public transport but when a good vehicle comes up they give a thumbs up, they like and appreciate a good car and personally I like that sporting and vibrant nature and I think that is what has driven us to the growth that we got to in this market and I think that’s gonna help us going forward if we get that kind of encouragement, attitude and support it will put us in the right frame of mind to hopefully replicate this in neighbouring countries.

BISSA:  What are some of the strongest, promising and emerging markets in Sub-Saharan Africa that will be crucial for Inchcape success in the near foreseeable future?

SS: Nigeria has traditionally been a strong market not for us as Inchcape but I am taking for Jaguar Land Rover, Angola when the oil prices were up there and Angola was doing extremely well, Kenya is the most consistent market in volumes and size terms after South Africa in Sub-Saharan Africa and I guess that depending on how the Nigerian economy comes back they will give us a run of our money and they may even overtake us in volume because it just depends how many dollars they get per barrel of oil and how of that is available but they also got telecom and other generators of wealth.

BISSA: Any parting shot?

SS: I am very excited, I am very grateful to the Kenyan media and the Kenyan people for supporting us and for taking so much interest in what would be classified generally as just business news. It goes to show how heartfelt our brand has become to so many Kenyans, they may not be our customers at the moment but they are customers and supporters of ours by heart and that means an awful lot to me so thank you.


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