Mazda has begun direct distribution of its vehicles and parts in Sweden and Norway; after the agreements of the former distributors in those markets, Mazda Motors (Sverige) AB and Kolberg Motors A/S, ended on 31st March 2004.

The operations are located in Gothenburg, Sweden and Oslo, Norway and form part of a new Scandinavian organisation that includes that established in Denmark in March 2003. The Danish operation is said to have increased sales by more than 58% during its first year.

Klaus Oest, formerly managing director of Mazda Motors Denmark, has been appointed MD for Scandinavia with operational responsibility for Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

Nils Nyrup, formerly head of marketing in Denmark, has been appointed director in that market, and Per Björnemann and Karianne Westby have been appointed to the same positions in Sweden and Norway, respectively. Jan Brentebrăten has been appointed chairman of Mazda Scandinavia and will be responsible for the coordination of strategy in the region and to ensure synergies.

"The commencement of operations in Norway and Sweden is the next step in our continuing strategy to progressively assume responsibility for distribution in Europe, as and when the timing is right in each market," said Dan Morris, president of Mazda Motor Europe GmbH.

Since 2000, when Mazda started to deploy the strategy, it has increased the proportion of European sales through subsidiary companies handling distribution from 33% in 1999 to a projected 82% in 2004.

"Mazda sales in Europe have been increasing steadily, up 26% in 2003 and are already up by a further 35% in the first quarter of 2004 through a combination of great new products and the consistent management of the brand across the key markets which we are now able to achieve," Morris added.

Mazda Motors (Sverige) AB and Kolberg Motors A/S were appointed Mazda distributors in their respective markets in 1972 and 1967. They have each since sold more than 270,000 vehicles.