Section 2. European Operations Become Autonomous
Item 1. Sales Bolstered as Markets Stagnate
Sales and service organizations expanded
Toyota Motor Marketing Europe (TMME), Toyota's sales management headquarters for the European market, worked to reinforce sales. In the 1990s, TMME made leading distributors in Western European countries into subsidiaries through equity participation or increasing equity holdings and established a number of distributors in Central Europe and Eastern Europe. Sales support measures included the expansion of service organizations such as the establishment of the Service Training Center in 1990 and the Toyota Parts Centre Europe in 1993.
TMME conducted intensive investigations into marketing techniques and established Le Rendez-Vous Toyota, a showroom managed directly by TMME, on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, the site of numerous showrooms of leading European automakers, in 1998. Also, starting in 2001, TMME directly operated the parts warehouses of distributors in each country and consolidated parts logistics sites. This freed distributors from parts operations and allowed them to focus on marketing activities.
In response to the expansion of the automotive market from Central Europe to Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union starting in 2000, TMME established distributors in Russia in 2001 and the Ukraine in 2004. Poland and the Czech Republic later became production countries, and the distributors in those countries were made into wholly owned subsidiaries in 2000 and 2005, respectively. Also, Toyota Romania became independent of Toyota Hellas (the distributor in Greece) in 2007 to manage and coordinate distributors in the Balkan region, and other measures were taken to strengthen the sales network. In the former Soviet Union, when Toyota Motor Russia (TMR) constructed a new building in 2008, Kazakhstan Toyota, which had been operating under the umbrella of TMR, was made into a distributor.
When TMME began direct management of parts operations in 2001, sales agents that had been referred to as distributors were re-designated "national marketing & sales companies" to convey the sense that they actively engage in autonomous and strategic sales and marketing.