CFAO Motors Zimbabwe has recently opened their new prestigious VW showroom situated at 58a Golden Stairs Road, just opposite the intersection with Norfolk Road. The official opening was a glamorous affair attended by the high fliers in the motoring industry with the German Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Dr Thorsten Hutter, being the Guest of Honour. The facility includes the very upmarket VW showroom floor, as well as offices and meeting rooms, workshops, storerooms and distribution centres for genuine VW parts, and the adjacent Hyundai showroom and express service centre. Their bonded warehouse is conveniently located right next door.
CFAO is a huge multi-national group with interests in the automotive industry, health care, consumer goods, and the infrastructure and energy sector. Their headquarters are in France and they have locations in 36 African countries and 7 French Overseas Territories including Vietnam and Cambodia. CFAO Motors Zimbabwe is the official local distributor and franchise holder for VW in Zimbabwe and is responsible for new vehicle sales, after sales services, including servicing and maintenance, and warranties. Their investment in the new showroom and service centre shows their optimism and commitment to Zimbabwe’s future.
The site has an interesting history, having originally been a zoo at some time back in the 60s! It then became a petrol station, later a garage/workshop and then the Nissan franchise. CFAO took over the site in 2015 and set up their VW and Hyundai dealership using the existing facilities for two years until they completed major renovations in late 2017. The refurbishment was undertaken to bring the showroom and the workshop facilities up to the extremely high and demanding standards set by VW internationally.
The roof over the new showroom section is made from Zip-Tek Klip Lok – the usual Chromadek roofing being unavailable – which could cope with the very shallow three degree slope allowing water to drain off without any problems. Rain water drains into downpipes concealed within the pillars and is then dispersed onto the paving in the front, which accounts for the slightly ‘floating’ look created by the small gap at the bottom of the pillars.
Fox has used some interesting materials in the construction of the new sections. The white pillars have a façade of Aluminium Composite Cladding Material (ACM) called Alcobond, made up of panels manufactured in South Africa by two companies – Romano and Nimtec – and then fitted on site with the help of South African specialist technicians. Romano and Nimtec are both accredited installers certified and approved by VW to supply the Alcobond backing and fit the VW approved logo.
In this instance, Romano was commissioned to supply the VW branded elements, such as the VW pylon, entrance portal and dealer sign. It was thought that a local more cost effective alternative to the showroom fascia/column cladding could be found using Chromadek sheeting, however the client and architect agreed that it would be well worth the extra cost and effort to maintain the consistency of the public branding and facades throughout, and commissioned Nimtec to complete the outstanding elements, based on an agreeable cost, and fabrication and delivery timelines.
The VW logos on the exterior pylon and on the entrance portal were supplied by a German manufacturer – the only company in the world permitted to make their logos, ensuring that the branding is identical worldwide. The CFAO logo was from certified fabrication and installation subcontractors in South Africa manufactured in accordance with stringent specifications. Interior design details like wall colours, floor tiles and lighting are all clearly stipulated by VW, and although some materials were imported most were sourced from local suppliers. Even the furniture has to meet VW’s required standards and was sourced from a trusted preferred supplier in South Africa. The showroom has air conditioning to keep the temperature and humidity constant, in line with the image of suppliers of luxury vehicles.
Despite, or maybe because of, all these very particular design demands, Architectural Planning Studio and Kalamain Investments have managed to create a showroom that meets international standards, and all within a very short time and a fairly modest budget.