Thursday, January 23, 2020

GONE GIRL by John Crawford

On November 8 last year, DRIVING & LIFE celebrated the appointment of two very competent women to key positions at the two French automakers.

Anouk Poelmman was appointed head of Renault’s operations in Australia.

More impressively Linda Jackson was made global head of Citroen. I postulated that, although I welcomed the moves, it was/is unusual to see women at the very top of the management pinnacle in the car industry, although I did also mention the female CEOs at Ford Australia and GM in the USA.

As a reminder of the post, cut and paste this link:

Linda Jackson came from a background as a Brand Manager and Brand Reputation builder, as opposed to a (sales) manager responsible for ‘moving the metal’ in larger and larger volumes. My view at the time was that ‘Brand Specialists’ always see the potential for the brand in obscure as well as established markets, and often resort to investments in brand building which may well more firmly establish the brand in the consumers’ consciousness, however, inevitably, it ends up producing minor volume increases, so the Return on Investment (ROI) simply isn’t a successful result.

I forecast that I would be surprised, if Linda Jackson’s address to the Australian motoring press about building bigger and bigger volumes for Citroen in Australia, would be a key element in building Linda’s position also into one of strength within Groupe PSA, or in fact even bring the increase in volume she was forecasting.

Her simple methodology was that if you created 10 x 5000 unit per annum markets in previously-ignored global locations, you ended up with 50,000 extra sales previously unrealised. Correct, but at what cost in marketing terms?

In 2018 Groupe PSA sold 3,877,765 vehicles, an increase of 6.8%, including impressive sales of 564,147 commercial vehicles, up 18.7%, and giving PSA leadership in the European Commercial Vehicle market.

The Oceania market which includes Australia and India rose just 1.6%. Still a lot of work to do.

The news from Paris this week is that Linda Jackson will move sideways to “lead a study to clarify and support brand differentiation within a large brand portfolio” and she is replaced by m. Vincent Cobee (right), whom Groupe PSA chief Carlos Tavares poached from the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.

Seems like my crystal ball is working at 100% efficiency. 

Mind you, I think Ms. Jackson will be very happy in her new role, dealing with brand issues which are close to her heart, and which formed much of her previous experience.

It will be up to the new man, to ‘move the metal’ in substantial numbers, because given the staggering investments in mergers and acquisitions which Groupe PSA has made, in acquiring GM Europe and merging with FCA, there will be intense pressure and scrutiny to ensure bigger volumes bring in the anticipated ROI to support the new mega-group.

Keep in mind the relative weakness of FCA in the Franco-American-Italian menage à trois, so I think this new merger is going to soak up lots of money, before any real savings and synergies emerge from the partnership.

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