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Fresh Audi dealer focus in bid for luxo crown

Change of pace: Rhonda Soulakellis has taken on the newly created role of general manager of dealer development at Audi Australia.

Audi Australia creates dealer development division as part of market leadership plan

2 Apr 2013

AUDI Australia has appointed long-serving finance executive Rhonda Soulakellis as general manager of dealer development as its works on a plan to secure luxury car market leadership by the end of this decade.

The company’s head of finance for the past 16 years, Mrs Soulakellis will oversee a newly created dealer development department of seven staff members that the company describes as part of its global Strategy 2020 in which it aims to become the leading luxury brand in Australia and markets worldwide.

Replacing her as the general manager of finance, legal and compliance will be Dr Ralf Schuell, an experienced executive who is relocating from Audi AG.

As GoAuto has reported, Audi has experienced strong growth in recent years to over 14,500 annual sales, coming within about 4000 units of BMW and Mercedes-Benz, although new registrations in 2012 were up just 0.2 per cent.

With this growth has come an expansion of its retail network to increase its coverage and manage the influx of new customers.

Audi says Mrs Soulakellis will now use her experience to launch “the next phase of Audi’s focus on dealer network investment, dealer network quality, non-technical training and customer service”.

“Mrs Soulakellis is one of Audi’s most experienced general managers, and will take over this role to secure the growth of the business for the next critical period in Australia,” said Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle.

“We need to focus on investments, sustainable growth and network quality, ensuring that Audi is, without doubt, the most customer-oriented premium brand in the market.

“The market competition is extremely fierce and it’s essential that Audi moves quickly and aggressively to secure its position for the long-term in Australia. It’s a clear demonstration of our long-term goals in the premium space.”

Audi Australia’s general manager of corporate communications Anna Burgdorf explained further that the dealer development role was identified at the start of this year as “a position that Audi needed to take our next step into the future” and which forms part of the company’s “consolidation and investment period”.

“In order to offer excellence in customer service to our buyers, and of course to maximise the investments being made by our dealer network, the company saw a clear need for a strategic role to bring us into our next phase of growth, by optimising processes, maximising profitability, maximising investment, focusing on training and customer service in our network,” she said.

“The department itself is new, however not all of the roles or team (members) are new. We have handpicked the key staff/areas from within the sales and aftersales teams and created a standalone department and strategic department head.”

Mrs Soulakellis’ position is new, and another person will be hired during this year in dealer network quality. Existing roles include dealer development consultant, quality manager, non-technical training manager (sales and aftersales), training executive and training administrator.

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