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Local Citroen boss to take on Peugeot

Dual role: John Startari (left) will take the additional responsibility of general manager of Peugeot in Australia, with former chief Bill Gillespie departing Sime Darby.

Citroen boss Startari takes over as Peugeot chief as Gillespie leaves Sime Darby

General News logo1 Oct 2013

By TIM NICHOLSON

SIME Darby Motor Group Australia has consolidated the roles of general manager for its French brands, with current Citroen boss John Startari taking on the additional responsibility of Peugeot from Bill Gillespie.

Mr Startari officially started the role of general manager for Peugeot and Citroen today, October 1, after Mr Gillespie left the company on Monday after 17 months in the top job.

He was previously national sales manager for Peugeot, and has more than four decades’ automotive industry experience with companies such as Nissan, Kia, Toyota, Ford, Jaguar and Land Rover.

The shuffling of the top tier of the independent distributor follows an internal review of the business that determined the two general manager roles should be merged with one manager responsible for both Peugeot and Citroen brands.

GoAuto understands the merging of the roles into one position is the only management change that has occurred as a result of the review, with existing Citroen and Peugeot sales and marketing management roles remaining.

80 center imageLeft: Bill Gillespie.

Sime Darby officially added the Citroen brand to its stable – and appointed Mr Startari as general manager – in February after previous importer Ateco Automotive ended its distribution arrangement with the French car-maker midway through last year.

The change in local distributorship followed French parent company PSA’s restructuring of global operations in 2012.

This is the second high-level management change at the local distributor this year, following the departure of long-time Sime Darby Motor Group Australia managing director Rob Dommerson in April.

This came after the company questioned the need for two managing directors in the Australasia region and decided to consolidate the Australian and New Zealand roles, with the company’s New Zealand boss, Pat McKenna, taking over as managing director.

Mr McKenna maintains his role overseeing operations in Australia and New Zealand, and Mr Startari will continue to report to him.

Mr Startari is a former managing director of Proton Cars Australia and also has experience with brands including Mitsubishi, Holden, Subaru and Peugeot.

Australian sales of Peugeot were down 5.0 per cent for the first eight months of this year, with 3308 units sold to the end of August compared to 3483 in the same period last year.

A Sime Darby spokesperson said the dip in Peugeot sales did not have any bearing on Mr Gillespie leaving the company.

Peugeot’s light commercial van range is the company’s shining light, with the Expert up by 11 per cent and the Partner by 59.5 per cent, while the Mitsubishi ASX-based 4008 compact SUV has experienced a 208 per cent year-to-date sales boost.

The soon-to-be-replaced 308 small car is down by 42 per cent, while the 508 mid-size offering is down by 42 per cent.

Meanwhile, Citroen sales are down by 30 per cent over the same period.

Mr Startari told GoAuto in August that leftover stock of slow-selling variants during the transition from Ateco to Sime Darby was partly to blame for its poor sales performance.

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