Established in 1984 by Mario Gauci, Burmarrad Group has evolved from a leading importer of used commercial vehicles into a multifaceted provider of automotive services, catering to both the B2B and B2C sectors. 2023 has marked a remarkable transformation and expansion as the family business looks to secure its future in an ever-changing automotive landscape.

In the highly competitive world of business, ‘evolve or perish’ is a mantra etched in the minds of many a successful entrepreneur. For Burmarrad Group, a family business on the cusp of celebrating its remarkable 40- year anniversary, recent years have certainly been the culmination of this adage. The company has undergone a strategic evolution that includes a move to a larger facility in Marsa, a comprehensive rebranding effort and an expansion into new services and offerings.

CEO Sharon Gauci, who has formed part of the family business since a young age, has been at the helm of this transformation. Having started from the bottom of the pyramid, she steadily ascended through the ranks of her father’s company to assume the mantle of leadership at Burmarrad Group.

“Leading a family business has been both a privilege and a responsibility,” Sharon reflects. “My personal leadership style is deeply influenced by the principles my father instilled in me and my siblings: a strong work ethic, integrity and an unwavering commitment to excellence. While staying true to these core values, I’ve adapted my leadership approach to embrace inclusivity and collaborative decision-making.”

The group’s relocation to a new facility in the Marsa Industrial Estate has played a pivotal role in its growth. It was a delicate two-week operation that required shifting staff, stock and over 600 vehicles to their new base without causing any interruption to daily operations. The move also unlocked new opportunities, such as the space to invest in new, state-of-the-art technology, including its own VRT station. With a more diverse range of services now on offer and a central location, the company has extended its client base and effectively met a broader spectrum of needs within the automobile industry.

While the company remains committed to strengthening its core pillars – including vehicle sales, leasing, rentals, and aftersales – it now offers vehicle body manufacturing and the conversion of factory vehicles that require specialised equipment, such as refrigerated vans. This particular service is a notable breakthrough as, previously, Maltese clients had to look to Sicily or Italy to secure such conversions. Now, thanks to Burmarrad Group, these transformations can conveniently take place at home.

“The response to our new services has been overwhelmingly positive. Clients appreciate the convenience of finding comprehensive solutions under one roof, backed by our reputation for quality and reliability. This expansion has deepened our relationships with existing clients and attracted new partnerships,” Sharon explains.

Burmarrad Group has already earned its stripes as an authorised repairer for leading car brands Peugeot, Citroen and Opel. Moreover, the company is currently in negotiations with other local dealers, aiming to extend the same top-notch service to them. And, in 2023, the group acquired RMF, a widely recognised household name in towing and 24-hour roadside assistance services. This strategic addition not only strengthened the company’s portfolio but also brought valuable synergy, bolstered by their expertise in car repairs.

The company’s diversification didn’t stop there. The team has also ventured into the tourism industry, signing a franchise agreement with American car rental giants, Enterprise, Alamo and National. Operating from Malta International Airport, Burmarrad Group now offers a rent-a-car service under these well-established brands, marking a significant expansion of its services. Despite the challenging circumstances brought on by the pandemic, a bold decision to launch these initiatives paid off.

Sharon reflects on the partnership, stating, “it was certainly a risky decision to launch during the pandemic, but we felt it was necessary to get the ball rolling after we had poured so much energy into showing Enterprise that we were the best partner for them in Malta. Initially, we started with a fleet of 60 vehicles, which has since grown to 150. We also continue to earn high scores on Enterprise’s booking site, which is a great source of pride for the entire team.”

Amidst these more substantial changes, the CEO and her management team also recognised the need for a subtle but significant rebranding effort. They transitioned from ‘Burmarrad Commercials’ to ‘Burmarrad Group’, aligning their identity with the more diverse nature of their business today. The transformation extended to their visuals as well as their online presence, improving user experience and accessibility.

Reflecting on the exercise, Sharon remarks: “our rebranding mirrors our forward trajectory by signalling a new era of evolution. It’s a visual testament to our commitment to staying relevant, meeting market demands and continuing to be a trusted partner for our clients’ diverse needs.”

For any successful CEO, significant growth and transformation heavily rely on a dedicated and skilled team. Sharon points towards the company’s substantial investment in expanding its workforce, resulting in a doubling of its staff in the past year. She also acknowledges that her approach to leadership has evolved to better harness the full potential of her team.

“I’ve come to put a lot more focus on emotional intelligence when it comes to leadership. It’s clear to me that our people are the driving force behind our success. That’s why we make it a point to have regular interactions with our team, maintain open communication channels and actively listen to them. This approach helps me to really grasp their needs and aspirations, ensuring that our employees not only feel valued but also engaged and empowered to give their absolute best. And, of course, it creates opportunities for personal growth right here within the group.”

In this vein, the group has launched the BG Training Academy, which offers free training in diverse areas, spanning specialised trade skills, leadership development and personal enrichment. Sharon notes: “skilled tradespeople are becoming increasingly difficult to find in Malta. That’s why we feel it’s essential to offer on-thejob training to more students who want to learn essential trades. This aligns with our broader vision of becoming a hub of innovation, where expertise is cultivated and shared openly.”

The past few years have certainly been a whirlwind of activity for Burmarrad Group. While the team has comfortably settled into their new Marsa headquarters, their journey of diversification and expansion is far from over. There are exciting ventures into real estate projects on the horizon to offer more comprehensive services that go beyond automotive services. And, with the company’s growth, Sharon explains that the management team is proactively bolstering its corporate governance by introducing nonfamily members onto the board of directors. This strategic move acknowledges the increasing complexity and diversity of their current business landscape.

“In 2024, our drive remains rooted in innovation, adaptability and sustainable growth. We intend to harness our expanded services, technology integration and strategic partnerships to further solidify our position as an industry leader,” she concludes.

This article is part of the serialisation of 50 interviews featured in MaltaCEOs 2024 – the sister brand to MaltaCEOs.mt and an annual high-end publication bringing together some of the country’s most influential business leaders

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