Debono Group – a 70 year story entrenched in ŻEBBUĠ

Debono Group

Debono Group is synonymous with the city of Żebbuġ, Malta. Not only is Debono Group headquartered in Żebbuġ but has been based there since its origins. It is a history that dates back 70 years, ever since Michael Debono opened a coach body building business in a garage at Freedom Avenue, the main road of Żebbuġ that leads from the De Rohan Gate to the heart of the city where many people pass through, back in 1952.

Seven years later, Debono read an article about Toyota, which prompted him to write to the Toyota Motor Corporation and enquire about the possibility of importing Toyota vehicles to Malta. A Toyopet Crown Deluxe arrived in Malta in August 1960 – and was the first Toyota sold not just in Malta, but in the entire European market!

The Toyota dealership was opened in 1968 on Mdina Road, where it remains to this day. Michael Debono Ltd was formed in 1988 – with its first shareholders being Michael Debono, and his eldest son Philip. Michael Debono Ltd has grown exponentially in the years since – serving not just as a Toyota dealership, but also a one-stop shop offering a full array of products and services including: servicing, bodyshop, tyre repair, B2B services, used cars sales and insurance partnership.

Michael Debono led the company until his death in 1999, with his son Philip succeeding him as managing director of the company until his untimely demise in 2002. Current Debono Group CEO Geoffrey Debono took overall responsibility for Michael Debono Ltd in 2006, and set about with an ambitious plan to re-establish Toyota as the number one car brand in Malta. This was a resounding success, with Toyota today having the largest market share of all new cars sold in Malta, and Michael Debono Ltd being Malta’s largest vehicle sales company. Toyota was also named as Malta’s best-selling brand for four years’ running between 2018 and 2021, and the second most loved international brand in Malta.

With Geoffrey at the helm, the company made its first foray into the non-automotive field in 2010 when it was part of a consortium setting up iMovo Limited, a customer experience management and business intelligence firm. A year later Debono Commericals was launched with the aim of providing end to end automotive solutions to all kinds of businesses. In 2014 Debono Group acquired Storage Systems Ltd, a leading racking and shelving solutions company. In 2019, Debono Group launched Malta’s first ride-pooling service, Cool and set its mission to be an active player in sustainable mobility in Malta.

These business activities demonstrate that Debono Group has evolved. What started off as a family business is now in its third generation. Over the years the company ventured into various areas and has also built up a strong and diverse property portfolio.

Throughout all this time, Debono Group respected and acknowledged the roots from where it originated, by supporting various initiatives, groups and events in the Żebbuġ community.

Now it is time to take the next step forward. Debono Group is about to undertake what certainly is its biggest commitment throughout its existence – that of giving something that is long-lasting to the Żebbuġ community that has hosted it for more than sixty years.

The regeneration of the existing Debono Group site will bring to life a new and vibrant reference point for the central regions of the Island, underpinned by the principles of wellbeing, sustainability and healthy living for all age groups. It is not merely an exercise aimed at generating healthy economic activity, but also to serve as a green lung in an urban area and offering people and families a space to unwind and relax from the fast-paced life and environment synonymous with the 21st century. This regeneration of this site also marks the start of a new era not just for the Debono Group, but also for Żebbuġ.