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Holden shut down: Dealerships react to General Motors announcement

SHUT DOWN: Holden dealership staff have been left reeling by the Holden shut down announcement, while some saw it coming. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUT DOWN: Holden dealership staff have been left reeling by the Holden shut down announcement, while some saw it coming. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

STAFF in Holden dealerships across the Central West have been left reeling following the announcement that Holden will be scrapped in Australia and New Zealand by 2021.

Just after midday on Monday, global automotive giant General Motors (GM) delivered the final death blow to Holden, with the brand to shut down and 600 jobs to be axed.

This follows the closure of the company's Australian manufacturing operations in 2017.

The shut down has left the future of 185 dealerships across Australia, including 10 in this region, in doubt.

Cowra's Holden dealership, Waugoola Motors, and its 12 staff are among those left with an uncertain future.

Dealer principal Brad Savage said he and his staff were completely blindsided by GM's announcement.

HOLDEN'S FUTURE: "The crux of it is that we simply don't sell enough cars," Golden West Holden dealer principal Michael Adams said of Australian Holden sales. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE Click on photo to read the full story.

HOLDEN'S FUTURE: "The crux of it is that we simply don't sell enough cars," Golden West Holden dealer principal Michael Adams said of Australian Holden sales. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE Click on photo to read the full story.

"We had no inkling at all, everything was full steam ahead," he said.

"It's just too early to know what's going to happen to us into the future, we only found out 24 hours ago."

GM has committed to providing compensation to Holden dealers to allow them to transition to other brands or close down.

It's just too early to know what's going to happen to us into the future, we only found out 24 hours ago.

Waugoola Motors dealer principal Brad Savage

They will also have the opportunity to continue as dedicated Holden service centres with the company to maintain a supply of spare parts for at least 10 years for the 1.6 million Holden cars now on Australian roads.

"If we could be a franchise that'd be good. It'd be an advantage to have all these people here who will need to service their vehicles," Mr Savage said.

GM's announcement was also a shock for staff at Lithgow City Holden and the dealership's financial controller Sue Campbell wanted customers to know it was "business as usual".

HOLDEN'S FUTURE: Lithgow City Holden and the dealership's financial controller Sue Campbell wanted customers to know it was "business as usual". Photo: ALANNA TOMAZIN

HOLDEN'S FUTURE: Lithgow City Holden and the dealership's financial controller Sue Campbell wanted customers to know it was "business as usual". Photo: ALANNA TOMAZIN

"It's going to impact us, but I hope we're still going to do the servicing," she said.

"Everyone panics, but it'll be fine, we've just got to get through it for the next while.

"We're not going anywhere, that's the main thing we want out customers to know."

Unlike Cowra's Waugoola Motors, Lithgow City Holden sells cars from another manufacturer which Ms Campbell said she hopes would help keep the 30 staff in jobs.

"We're fortunate that we're a dual dealership, we've also got Toyota as well," she said.

In Mudgee, Holden sales specialist and and social media manager at Ross Granata Motors Mudgee, Michele Meyer, said it was a very sad day.

I will always remember the day that Holden production stopped in Australia. I know the date, I know the time, I know all of that stuff because it was a significant day.

Ross Granata Motors Mudgee's Michele Meyer

"I say that genuinely, that's not a pre-empted response, that's from people - Ross has been a Holden dealer for over 30 years," she said.

"We've all got - all of us within this dealership - have got a story of what Holden means to us and it was the first franchise that Ross had when he first came to Mudgee, so it has great sentimental value and it is deeply saddening when something like this happens.

"I will always remember the day that Holden production stopped in Australia. I know the date, I know the time, I know all of that stuff because it was a significant day and I'll always remember getting the email yesterday [Monday] saying that the brand will be no more."

While some dealerships were left shocked by GM's shut down announcement, others like Harden Geelan Holden dealer principal Jamie Harden said the "writing was on the wall for some time".

In Young, Harden Geelan Holden dealer principal Jamie Harden says the "writing was on the wall for some time". Photo: PETER GUTHRIE

In Young, Harden Geelan Holden dealer principal Jamie Harden says the "writing was on the wall for some time". Photo: PETER GUTHRIE

"I'd manoeuvred myself back in 2016 to purchase Mitsubishi locally and then Hyundai came up recently," he said.

"I really feel for those guys who have single dealerships, it's [servicing and parts] not enough to stay productive, you need the car sales and financing to make any money."

This dealership in Young employs 27 staff and Mr Harden said some were left "gobsmacked" by the shut down announcement.

Mr Harden said GM's remaining right-hand drive sales in Australia and Thailand represented just one per cent of global sales.

"We're really just a spec in the ocean," he said.

The Harden Geelan Holden site in Young has been a Holden dealer since 1978.

It's probably been talked about in the industry for a while.

Cootamundra Holden dealer principal Phil Hines

Cootamundra Holden dealer principal Phil Hines said while he was saddened by the shut down, he was not surprised.

"It's probably been talked about in the industry for a while. There's a couple of other manufacturers in the industry that are in the same position," he said.

Mr Hines said when he bought the dealership in 2009, Holden sales made up 14 per cent of the market share in Australia, but recently it had fallen to 3.5 per cent.

"There's a lot of choice out there for people, there are 60 to 70 [car] manufacturers in Australia," he said.

"It's sad, but it's basically a business decision. General Motors have made a business decision."

Mr Hines said while they already service many Holden vehicles, they also sell Toyotas out of the same dealership.

"We're probably a little bit luckier then single dealerships," he said.

For anyone looking for bargains on a Holden vehicle, Mr Harden said you'll have to wait a little bit longer.

"I have nothing official from Holden with regards to a change of pricing on vehicles," he said.

GM will still honour new car warranties and capped price servicing deals.

Canobolas Holden in Orange and Bathurst Holden chose not to comment on this story, while Frank Spice Holden in Forbes did not respond to Australian Community Media's request for comment.

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This story Some dealers left shattered, while others saw it coming first appeared on Lithgow Mercury.