After months of negotiations, Kia Motors Corporation has completed its move to takeover sales, marketing and distribution of its cars in the UK. The new company called Kia Motors (UK) Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kia Motors Corporation.

Kia Motors UK replaces Kia Cars (UK) Limited, owned by MCL Limited, who has been the distributor of Kia cars in the UK since 1991.

Commenting on this announcement, the new Chief Executive Officer of Kia Motors (UK) Ltd., CK Lee said: “Having the direct backing of the manufacturer gives Kia the platform and opportunity to plan and invest in the Kia brand in the UK. This will ensure that Kia cars will become a more regular sight on UK roads over the coming years. This is a very exciting and opportune time for Kia and its dealer network. Our range is stronger than it has ever been and with new products like the new Carens turbodiesel mini-MPV and Sorento SUV coming forward, gives Kia access to new, exciting and fast growing market segments. This all adds up to a bright future for Kia in the UK.”

The new company will remain in the same office in Tunbridge Wells, for the foreseeable future. Kia Motors UK has also entered supply agreements with other MCL Group companies to ensure a smooth transition between the two companies.

All staff will be transferring to the new company except Managing Director, Mark Quinn. He has decided to step aside as Managing Director after the completion of the negotiations between MCL Group and KMC.

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Mark Quinn said in a statement: “Kia has come on in leaps and bounds, especially since 1999, and now with direct input from the manufacturer is poised for even greater success. However, it feels like the right time to move onto new challenges. Kia Motors Corporation have been very persuasive in their attempts to get me to stay on as MD in the new company, but I am convinced that this is the right thing for me personally and for Kia to continue forward. That does not mean that it has been an easy decision to make.”

Chief Executive Officer C K Lee commented on the announcement: “I am very well aware of the commitment and success that Mark Quinn has brought to Kia since he joined in 1997. I applaud the immensely valuable contribution that he has made at this important stage of Kia’s development in the UK market. While I haven’t had long to get to know Mark, I am obviously disappointed by his decision but understand and respect the choice that he has made.”

Kia’s parent company Mazda took over the Mazda (UK) distribution operation from MCL on 1 August last year.

Followig the transfer of the Kia operation, MCL will now focus on three areas of operation, which include business services under the ‘Amethyst Group’ name, automotive retailing and financial Services.

Amethyst Group will now provide services to Kia, which include: IT and Communications Services, Data and Knowledge management services, Treasury services, Vehicle logistics, and Parts logistics. MCL says this adds to an external client base which already includes Mazda, ERF, Bedford, Sony Time Warner (the Entertainment Network), Saracen Bikes, and Novartis.

On the automotive retailing side, MCL intends to expand its growing Autolink car supermarket network and in addition seek other customer focussed retail solutions capitalising on the recent changes announced on ‘block exemption’.

Financial services will continue to support Kia and existing clients as well as the group’s own businesses both in terms of retail and trade finance. The group also has plans to develop further in the field of asset securitisation.

Group Chairman, Ike Shibata, said: “Our majority shareholder, Itochu Corporation, has given full support to the growth and development of MCL in the UK and we plan to grow the business both organically and through acquisition.”

Group Managing Director, David Heslop, said: “With today’s transaction, MCL can now fully focus on becoming a services company. The fact that we have secured lengthy service contracts with Kia Motors is a testament to the growing strength of the companies in our group.”

He added: “It has been apparent for some time that the days of the independently-owned car distributors are numbered. This is why three years ago we took steps to ensure all our businesses could stand on their own two feet and reach their proper level in the market place. I see the latest agreement with Kia Motors as a vindication of this strategy and a positive indication of how successful we have been in re-focussing our business in that time.”