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JM Family rebrands finance business

Sergot: Time for some grand clarity and focus on the Southeast Toyota brand.

JM Family Enterprises Inc. has renamed its vehicle finance business Southeast Toyota Finance, dropping the World Omni title as part of a rebranding initiative leading up to JM Family’s 50th anniversary.

JM Family launched World Omni Financial Corp., its financial products and services arm, in 1981. In 1996, World Omni created the Southeast Toyota Finance brand to better serve and offer personalized support to the Southeast Toyota dealers, Brent Sergot, group vice president of originations, told Automotive News last week.

The core financial services business will remain the same, but JM Family will mark dealership materials and customer care centers with the Southeast Toyota Finance brand, rather than World Omni. Southeast Toyota Finance and DataScan, the company’s wholesale floorplan accounting and risk management system, still fall under the World Omni umbrella.

The customer care center in Mobile, Ala., has already been renovated, while a redesign for the St. Louis, Mo., center is in the works.

“Depending on where you sit within the industry, some people have seen World Omni Financial Corp. as a company that lends more broadly,” Sergot said. “We thought it was time to do some grand clarity and reiterate our focus on the Southeast Toyota brand.”

The company’s anniversary marks founder Jim Moran’s signing of a distributor agreement with Toyota in 1968. Fifty years later, his $15.1 billion diversified automotive company is the world’s largest independent distributor of Toyota vehicles. JM Family’s subsidiary, Southeast Toyota Distributors, provides vehicles, parts and accessories to 177 franchised dealerships in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Those dealerships sell 20 percent of all Toyota vehicles — retail and fleet — in the U.S. Of those units, Sergot said about 60 percent are financed through Southeast Toyota Finance.

Though the World Omni Financial Corp. name will disappear from Powerpoint presentations and business cards, it will still be used on Wall Street, Sergot added.

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