Andy Reid had a rather unconventional start to his career at Vespa South Africa. It kicked off when he tried to purchase a new model 12 years ago. He learned that there was only a few spot traders in the country and they couldn’t confirm a specific arrival date. One thing lead to another and soon he became the sole importer of this iconic brand, setting up the current national dealership network. We sat down with him to talk scooters and Vespa South Africa’s future business plans.

CAR: Where do Vespa currently have dealerships in South Africa?
Andy Reid: We have two in Johannesburg, two in Cape Town and one in Durban. We also manage a very successful corporate side of the business.

What does this corporate side of the business entail?
We supply courier motorcycles for clients such as kalahari.com. You must never just look at the initial purchase price of a delivery scooter such as the Vespa. You must look at the life cost of running such a motorcycle.

How do these delivery Vespas differ from a standard Vespa?
It starts of with the same monocoque steel frame as any Vespa, but is based on the 150 cm3 model. However, the scooter is converted to be able to carry goods or even spare tyres.

Most people will tell you that a Vespa is totally overpriced compared with other scooters of the same size.
To start off with, the Vespa features a monocoque steel frame. You also need to take into account, as is the case when a buyer looks at a car, overall cost, design, longevity, reliability and resale value.  In the same way a car buyer may not opt for some cheaper cars, but rather pay a little more for a better, but more expensive car. The same applies to a Vespa.

Even so, what about a more affordable entry-level scooter for potential customers that wants a Vespa, but can’t quite afford it?
Piaggio does that as a group. Vespa, Aprilia and Moto Guzzi belongs to Piaggio, while Piaggio also manufactures its own scooters. These scooters feature the same engines as the Vespa, but different design and chassis.

What is the split between corporate sales and lifestyle?
Around 70 per cent corporate and 30 per cent lifestyle.

How do your sales volumes compare between Johannesburg and Cape Town?
Johannesburg is the best seller. Cape Town used to be the best seller, though. The Johannesburg market runs throughout the year, whereas Cape Town goes into hibernation through winter. In Cape Town you have an eight-month season compared to a 12-month season in Johannesburg. In total the split between Johannesburg and Cape Town is 60:40. The rate of growth in Johannesburg is truly impressive.

Do you have any specific expansion plans?
Yes, we are looking to broaden our current dealer network. There is definitely space to have more than one in most cities. People shop very locally and rarely travel outside their neighbourhood. Soweto, for example, is one of the areas that we are looking at. In total I think we could offer as many as 10 dealerships placed strategically throughout South Africa.

Click here for our review of the Vespa GTS 300.