Holden axe ends dealership’s 70-year love affair

THE managing director of one of Queensland's biggest Holden dealerships has labelled General Motors' decision to axe the famous brand as "devastating".

GM announced the decision to cut Holden, which has been a flagship in the Australian car industry since 1948, on Monday with as many as 800 jobs expected to be lost as part of the move.

Mark Beitz, who owns and operates Bartons car dealership which has been serving the Wynnum Manly and Redlands areas for more than 70 years and sold Holdens the entire time, said the news was hard to hear.

"We have five brands now and Holden is one of them but we started as mainly a Holden dealership and that's what we were known for, for a long time," he said.

Bartons managing director Mark Beitz. Picture: Steve Pohlner
Bartons managing director Mark Beitz. Picture: Steve Pohlner

"It's unexpected because we were the first dealership in the country to feature the new branding and everything for Holden and now it turns out we will be the last.

"It's also unexpected because we just completed a new showroom in Capalaba with an assurance from Holden that they'd be here for the long term but now that won't happen.

"So if we don't find something new to go in there, which I think we will, we will be left with nothing in that new showroom after a year.

"But as much as it is disappointing, Holden is only one brand for us and unfortunately Holden have contracted each year, which has led to this decision. We sold 420 cars last year and only 30 of them were Holden.

The old Holden showroom at Bartons at Wynnum.
The old Holden showroom at Bartons at Wynnum.

"The new car market is tough right now, there's way too many brands and way too many dealerships, so something like this was bound to happen."

Bartons, who sell Holden, Nissan, Subaru, Hyundai and Mitsubishi, have recently completed more than $10 million worth of redevelopment with new showrooms opened at Capalaba and Wynnum and have also started construction on a $1 million Nissan and Mitsubishi refurbishment at Wynnum.

The company also employs more than 230 people and Mr Beitz said yesterday's news had not hindered the progress of the developments and added no jobs were in danger at the moment.

"I met with staff internally yesterday to advise them not to panic right now," he said.

"In the short to medium term, there will not be any job losses with us but beyond that you can never be sure. Obviously we'll take a bit of a hit financially but hopefully GM's commitment to compensation is enough, we just don't know enough yet.

"It is our aim that any staff associated with Holden, who want to stay on can be absorbed into roles with our other brands. We have set ourselves up to be able to deal with news like this by expanding and developing relationships with more brands.

"In saying that, it means with our developments and expansion happening, there isn't the scope for new employment but we have the infrastructure in place that when the market turns around, and it will, we have the ability to add more staff."



A Holden lover since he was a teenager, Mr Beitz shared the brand's famous television advertisement from the 1970s on his personal Facebook yesterday with the catchy slogan "we love football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars".

He said the brand had a special place in his heart and in the heart of a lot of Australians.

"It really hit home how much Holden meant to car owners and drivers in yesteryear. As the YouTube clip says "Footy, Meat Pies, Kangaroos and Holden Cars", how Australian.

"There was also a clip in the video which showed a Holden tag that showed 'People Trust Holden' and sadly this is something that has unfortunately eroded over time.

"I am 47 years of age and growing up there was no other car that I wanted to own other than a Holden. It was I just could not afford one as my first car, however joining the motor industry at 21 allowed me to drive one and I continue to drive one to this day.

Mark Beitz in front of Bartons’s Hyundai showroom at Wynnum. Picture: Chris Higgins
Mark Beitz in front of Bartons’s Hyundai showroom at Wynnum. Picture: Chris Higgins

"I don't like what has happened and in fact I am devastated, however it is a sign of the times and we have to move on. I won't buy into the political rhetoric around this topic rather than accept that the industry has evolved and GM don't see a future here.

"With a brand new Holden dealership just built there will be few in the country that will feel the pain more than me but we will when it all settles, look for another brand to occupy our valuable showroom space and move forward.

"It truly is the end of an era."

Mr Beitz also said the news did not mean Holden would stop being sold immediately and he believed fans of the brand should get out to dealerships in the coming months.

"I expect there to be some cheap Holdens available in the coming months, they're still great cars," he said.

"We expect to have all liquidation and run out bonuses available by the end of the week. When announced I don't expect stock to last long, maybe a few months at best.

"Also, people who have Holdens and buy new ones before the brand is gone, your warranty and services are still guaranteed and will be honoured."

Holden has 39 dealerships in Queensland and 180 around Australia.

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