Mazda Motor Europe (MME) has taken over distribution and aftersales support of its vehicles in Belgium and Luxemburg, under the name of Mazda Motor Belux.

MME takes over from independent importer Beherman Auto, which has been responsible for distribution in the two markets since 1967.

In recent years the Japanese automaker’s European unit has taken over distribution from independent companies who initially distributed the brand from launch in most major markets on the continent.

The appointment of new Mazda Motor Belux managing director Olivier Sermeus was announced last December. The new management team includes Dominique Wouters, sales manager, Johan Costrop, marketing manager, Lionel Goyeau, finance manager and René Derboven, after sales manager.

Sermeus, 40, came from Kia Motors Belux where he also was MD. (Coincidentally, many Kia vehicles made up until the mid-1990s were licence-built Mazda models.) He was previously MD of MG Rover and director of sales and marketing at KBC Autolease. Like so many European auto industry executives, he is multi-lingual – Belgian by birth and also fluent in Dutch, English and French.

“The Mazda network in Belgium and Luxemburg consists now of 63 distributors and 40 acknowledged auto repairers. We intend to bring the brand as close to the customer as possible,” said Sermeus.

The founding of Mazda Motor Belux fits in the international strategy of Mazda, which has long planned ultimately to organise European distribution itself.

It recently founded national sales companies in Ireland, the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic and, earlier, here in the UK.

“We have a strong reputation and a widespread dealer network in Belgium and Luxemburg,” said Philip Waring, vice president for sales at Mazda Motor Europe. “The favourable economic climate, the enthusiasm of the distributors and the strength of our future product range are solid grounds for the further development of the brand. We are convinced Mazda Motor Belux has a bright future under [Sermeus’] management.”