(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi Arabia's largest petrol station operator Saudi Automotive Services Co. has entered into a business agreement with Ultra Tune Australia to form a joint venture company that will offer world-class maintenance services for vehicles and passenger cars. An announcement about this new venture, that has given a new boost to the Saudi-Australian commercial ties, was made at a brief ceremony here at the Australian embassy recently.
"This new Saudi-Australian partnership will contribute to improve the level of services offered at the gasoline stations, especially along the high ways of the Kingdom," said Sultan M. Alhudaithi, SASCO managing director. Australian Ambassador Neil Hawkins welcomed the SASCO and Ultra Tune top executives and congratulated them for entering into a joint venture deal. SASCO is the largest service provider in fuel station segment in terms of capital and also one of the largest in terms of its network of gasoline centers.
Also present were P. Sean Buckley, executive chairman of Ultra Tune Australia, and top Australian and Saudi officials and businessmen. Prominent among them were Tamsin Sanderson, second secretary at the Australian government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Mohammed M. Kamal, business development manager at Australian Trade Commission's office; and Gaspare Sirianni, general counsel of Ultra Tune. A proposal to train Saudi youngsters within the framework of the SASCO-Ultra Tune was also discussed at the meeting.
Speaking on this occasion, Ambassador Hawkins welcomed the idea of imparting training to young Saudi students, who can eventually become good car mechanics and run their own maintenance facilities. He pointed out that Saudi Arabia and Australia have forged closer ties in the field of education and training. Hawkins noted that the total Saudi students enrolled are in excess of 11,734 at the country's various institutions. In addition, there are also 7,000 Saudi family members in Australia, accompanying the students.
Australia has become an attractive destination for Saudi vocational and educational training (VET) students, Hawkins said. The number of Saudi students enrolled in VET courses only in Australia has increased from 11 students in 2002 to 744 students in 2011. "Australia is also increasing its already close cooperation with the Kingdom's Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC)," said the diplomat, adding that a senior TVTC delegation concluded a successful visit to Australia a couple of weeks back only.
Alhudaithi said that SASCO will be largely benefited from the technical know-how of Ultra Tune, which has considerable experience in car maintenance industry and owns more than 290 branches across Australia. He said: "SASCO is now leading a radical change in petrol station industry, and it has many locations with new identity launched by Prince Sultan Bin Salman, chief of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, in mid-2010."
He said that SASCO is also considered the largest petrol station operator on the highways with 111 locations across the Kingdom. SASCO, he said, had plans to offer world-class services by constructing high-tech central workshops for car services, rest-houses and restaurants, and by modernizing the sale of fuel, supplies of auto spare parts and accessories. "We are currently on the expansion course," said the SASCO chief, adding that SASCO and Ultra Tune have joined forces that will substantially boost capability and resources.
Referring to the new services offered by SASCO, he said that the company has launched an innovative concept of retail sales called SASCO Palm in a convenient store format. One can find a range of goods and merchandise under the roof of SASCO Palm, which operates with very high standards, he added. Alhudaithi pointed out that a number of fast-food outlets like Burger King and Kudu will open their outlets at SASCO locations in foreseeable future.
"We currently have 31 locations under construction or renovation in the Kingdom," said the SASCO chief. Asked about the profile of the Ultra Tune and the range of services offered by it in Australia, Buckley said that Ultra Tune offers a complete range of car servicing options, designed to suit everyone. Our services include vehicles' maintenance service, lube service, air-conditioning service, fuel system, shock absorber service, fleet management and in fact the whole range of related services, he added.
Buckley said that the purpose of his visit to the Kingdom was "to put together the strategy for the joint venture company with an aim to enable the two partners to launch integrated services as soon as possible." He reiterated that the plan is also to train Saudi youngsters in the field of servicing of vehicles and technical know-how as Ultra Tune is considered to be the industry leader in the technical field.