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Martin Benders to return as head of Mazda Australia

Main man: Martin Benders will relocate from Europe as managing director of Mazda Australia, having spent the past six years in key international sales and marketing positions.

Former Mazda marketing boss Martin Benders to replace Doug Dickson as Australian MD

General News logo4 Apr 2013

By TERRY MARTIN

MAZDA has announced that long-serving senior executive Martin Benders will return to Australia as managing director, following the retirement of Doug Dickson after 35 years with the company.

Currently vice-president of sales for Mazda Motor Europe, Mr Benders will officially take up the role at Australia’s leading full-line motor vehicle importer, and now the seemingly entrenched second biggest-selling brand on the Australian market, on May 1.

The move marks a continuation of the Japanese manufacturer’s successful strategy of placing Australian executives at the head of its operations here.

Mr Dickson has guided Mazda Australia for the past nine years, having taken over from Malcolm Gough, the company’s first non-Japanese managing director who was moving to an international post at Mazda Motor Corporation (MMC) headquarters in Hiroshima after seven years at the helm.

When when Mr Gough took the reins in 1997, Mazda was the seventh biggest-selling brand in Australia, with just over 30,000 annual sales and a 4.3 per cent share of the new-vehicle market.

That had climbed to more than 53,000 sales and a 5.8 per cent share in 2003 by the time Mr Dickson (then the company’s national sales manager) took over, before steadily rising further to a record 103,886 new vehicle registrations last year and a 9.3 per cent share of the market.

It was the first time a full-import brand had cracked 100K and taken a podium position, with former close partner Ford – which in the mid-1990s had a 33 per cent controlling interest in Mazda – falling down the Australian charts.

The Mazda3 also reaffirmed its status last year as the nation’s biggest-selling vehicle.

This year, Mazda has continued to post record sales results, including a new benchmark of 9112 vehicles in March which maintains its second position behind Toyota with 26,752 sales year to date, with a 9.8 per cent market share.

Mr Benders played a key role in Mazda’s growth in Australia as national marketing manager from 1997 to 2007, having started his career in 1987 at the company’s Queensland state office before being promoted to Victorian state manager in 1990.

He relocated to Hiroshima in 2007 as general manager of MMC’s global marketing division, a position he held for three years before moving to Mazda Motor Europe headquarters in Germany as vice-president of its European sales operations.

MMC director and senior managing executive officer in charge of global marketing, sales and customer service, Yuji Nakamine, said Mr Benders’ experience in both the Australian and overseas markets “will ensure that Mazda in Australia continues to be a strong, vibrant brand and a favourite with local car buyers”.

He also paid tribute to the Mr Dickson, highlighting the “significant contribution” the Mazda veteran had made to the business.

“As managing director for nine years, Mr Dickson has overseen significant sales and market share growth that has made Mazda the top-selling import brand in Australia for the past eight years,” Mr Nakamine said.

He added that last year’s 100,000-unit milestone and the Mazda3’s position as Australia’s top-selling vehicle for the past two years were “testament to Mr Dickson’s leadership”.

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