Man Utd, or Chelsea?

  05 September 2011

There must have been a collective groan of disbelief from Peugeot retailers at the news that Jon Goodman is moving on from his job as UK managing director.

Not that anybody could blame him. The role of Peugeot Citroen worldwide director of media relations has got to be a whole lot less stressful than running a national sales company and it’s much closer to the heart of power in PSA. Expect to see Mr Goodman on the main board of PSA any time soon – I can’t think when a Brit was last in such a high up position in a French car company.

But he’s only been in the current job just over two years and, at the time of his appointment, we (and the franchised retailers) were told he was in it for the long term.

French car companies seem to change managers with almost the same frequency as Premier League football clubs and, like the football clubs, they don’t seem to understand that success comes from a consistent, long term strategy. The irony, of course, is that the car companies are the first to accuse retailers of short-term thinking!

At least Peugeot Citroen professes to have a philosophy of ‘local managers for local markets’. It will be interesting to see if they stick to that when Goodman’s successor is announced or whether we get another Belgian or Spaniard.

Renault, on the other hand, seems to have a revolving door management policy and a cyclical sales strategy to match. In any three-year cycle, the first two years are spent restricting supply “to improve profitability” but, in the final year of an appointment, the outgoing MD turns the taps back on again to claim sales growth … and promotion to a new job.

This is not some jingoistic shout for British jobs. But it does seem sensible to assume that executives who have cut their teeth in the local market are best placed to drive sales in that market – and they’re going to be most effective if they’re given a sensible time frame to do it.

Rupert Saunders

If you think differently, do let me know at rupert@auto-retail.com

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