News - Citroen
Citroen set to bridge sales gap to Peugeot
New Peugeot and Citroen Aus GM says more opportunities than challenges ahead
10 Mar 2016
NEWLY appointed Australian general manager of Citroen, DS and Peugeot marques, Kai Bruesewitz, has outlined what he sees as “more opportunities than challenges” ahead for the trio of French brands in Australia.
Although Mr Bruesewitz does not formally begin the role with PSA-importer Sime Darby Motors Group until March 14, the German-born former boss of Mini Australia spoke with GoAuto for the first time in an official capacity at the national media launch of the C4 Cactus in New South Wales this week.
“We want to grow both brands,” Mr Bruesewitz said of both Peugeot and Citroen/DS, brands that last year tallied annual sales of 4000 and 1106 respectively.
Referring to the current difference in volume, he added, “that would hopefully mean that the more we grow the more balanced this ratio becomes because the growth potential from Citroen from a lower base is probably higher and then they will get closer, that would be my expectation”.
Mr Bruesewitz said he was aware issues existed between the Australian importer and PSA Peugeot Citroen in the past, but was assured that these had been addressed, and he believed, must be addressed in order to grow the brands locally.
“What I was told there was a bit of a distraction in the collaboration with the manufacturer, we not always have gotten the support that we thought was needed in order to bring both brands to the next level,” he said.
“We want to bring it to the next level, but we need the support that we have now … because in that competitive marketplace you can’t be successful without having full backing from the manufacturer.
“This we are now sure of that we have this support and I think Sime Darby took over the importership about two years ago and I guess with the products that are coming, the Cactus but also the Picasso when it was launched, they will be giving us the ability to bring the volume to the next level.”
Left: Peugeot and Citroen general manager Kai Bruesewitz.Citroen Australia PR and communications manager Tyson Bowen added that a primary reason for the increased support from France came following the appointment of former Renault chief operating officer Carlos Tavares to the position of PSA Peugeot Citroen chief executive in late 2013.
“He (Mr Tavares) took an overview of where PSA was present, where PSA wasn’t present, and fundamentally there is an opportunity in Australia and they see that opportunity,” Mr Bowen said.
“The visibility is back on us (and) it’s now how do we take it to the next level – what do we need to do? What do they need to do.”
Mr Bowen added that although the brands are “starting to bear the fruits” of the increased collaboration between Sime Darby Motors Group and PSA Peugeot Citroen, the full results are not expected to be seen for another 12 to 18 months.
Mr Bruesewitz said he hoped that would result in addressing “both” product and pricing aspects.
He further nominated one of the “challenges” he faced prior to taking the role was understanding the difference between Peugeot and Citroen as mutually exclusive brands.
“That was one of the challenges that I had when I was more and more thinking about this (role) becoming a reality: what is Peugeot standing for? And what Citroen?” he questioned.
“I think Citroen is more the eclectic, creative class competitor, Peugeot is probably more luxurious and has something in the line-up for the entire family, and that’s probably not where we’re at for Citroen.”
Despite Citroen lacking the wider model range of Peugeot, Mr Bruesewitz said that a “less is more” approach for the brands can be beneficial and is something he learned over his 15-year stint with the BMW Group and particularly Mini.
“I think what attracted me (to the role) was the similarities in some of the challenges that Peugeot and Citroen is facing with my former (BMW/Mini) role,” he said.
“So we need to fix some basic parameters to bring some of the pieces of the puzzle together and be successful in the end.
“It’s not just the marketing and the dealership spend, these all have to fit together in order to be successful not only as the importer, but also the manufacturer and dealer network – it needs to be profitable.
“I guess with Mini we’ve learned the lesson that ‘less is more’ and I think that lesson is already learned and underway that we don’t need to offer each and every model because we have limited resources and we have to allocate those resources wisely, to those products where we think we will have most success and ones we think will help the brands have a distinguished image for themselves.”
Referring to models that could be placed on the chopping block, Mr Bruesewitz said: “If a model only has (tiny) monthly volumes then it is a question whether we need to keep those models and possibly create a stock issue for ourselves.”
Following the discontinuation of the C3 light hatchback locally, Citroen has halted further importation of the slow-selling C4 small hatchback while it hopes the just-launched C4 Cactus will become its top-selling model.
The facelifted DS 3 will arrive locally later this year, while Peugeot has focused its recent efforts on the 308 and more recently the 308 GTi hot-hatch.
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