Sunday 22 April 2018

Veteran Keane jump-starts an institution back to life

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

IT'S not every day a new car dealership opens its doors, particularly in a recession.

But veteran motor man Frank A Keane yesterday vowed to "put my money where my mouth is" as he unveiled a revamped Maxwell Motors in Dublin's Blackrock.

Less than three months after it went into receivership, Maxwell's has reopened under new management, with the creation of 18 jobs.

An institution in south Dublin, the dealership has been in business for over 70 years.

It has now been given a new lease of life as part of Frank Keane Holdings and will sell premium used cars.

"I've always admired this garage," explained Mr Keane.

"It's a very old company, established in 1938. I knew the original owner, Foffie Maxwell, and I wanted to help their 20 staff there."

And while it may be a gamble opening a new dealership in the middle of a recession, he is willing to give it a go.

"I think it's very important to create some employment because, like everybody else, we have had to dispense with a lot of people over the past few years," he said.

Mr Keane started selling cars in 1952 with the Smithfield Motor Company in the centre of Dublin, and has spent all his working life in the business.

During that time he has witnessed "incredible changes" and now hopes the industry can grow again -- and that Maxwell Motors will rise on the tide, this time with his son Brian at the helm.

"When I came into the business, there were total sales of only 50,000 units for the whole country. That figure stood at 230,000 in 2000," he said.

"One would hope that some encouragement would be given to the public to renew their cars. Presently there's not too much encouragement out there.

"Finance is difficult to get and there are a lot of unsold secondhand cars lying around dealers all over the country, which is not a very positive sign.

"Some encouragement will have to come from the powers that be to help the industry. We've lost a lot of employees as well as owners of premises. Many businesses have gone in the last three or four years."

Gavin Flood, group marketing manager with Frank Keane Holdings, said the company was taking a long-term view of Maxwell Motors. "Even with 100 dealerships closing in the last five years . . . the fundamentals are strong.

"We're looking at this in the long term.

"We're not looking at it in the next 12 to 18 months, but 10, 15, 20 years."

Irish Independent

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