Jaguar Land Rover has announced that Ian Callum will retire from his 20-year career at Jaguar, and effective July 1, 2019, Julian Thompson will become Jaguar's Chief Creative Office.
I have had the fortunate privilege of knowing Ian for almost 30 years, and I completely supported his fresh input to Jaguar design from Day One. He has had an outstanding career in car design, beginning with the Ford Escort RS rallycar in 1984, and despite great success with Aston Martin (DB7 & Vanquish), he has left an indelible mark on Jaguar's history by developing a completely new approach to revitalising Jaguar's design language.
We regularly met at motor shows, and my most recent meeting was at the Cafe de Paris in Geneva in 2014 (below), which is a famous meeting place for the world's leading car designers on the night of the first Press Day at Geneva Salon.
I can't honestly see such an inspiring designer going on extended 'gardening leave', but I can't help feeling that Ian considers his run at Jaguar is coming to an end as Jaguar Land Rover is facing significant financial losses, many cuts to jobs and resources, and with the (apparently) impending takover of the British company by Groupe PSA.
I can't help feeling these devlopments may certainly have been a trigger for Ian's decision to retire.