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NZ chief to run Sime Darby in Australia

New horizons: Rob Dommerson is now looking for a new challenge within the car industry after overseeing Peugeot and other brands for the past 12 years.

McKenna to take reins of Peugeot, Citroen importer in Oz as Dommerson moves on

General News logo8 Apr 2013

SIME Darby Motor Group Australia managing director Rob Dommerson will leave the company this week after 12 years at the helm of the motor vehicle distributor responsible for Peugeot and, since February, Citroen.

In a statement released last Thursday, the company said Mr Dommerson, who is also on the board of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, would leave his role on April 12 and that he “intends to continue his career in the industry”.

He told GoAuto he was now looking for a new challenge within the car industry.

Meanwhile, the managing director of Sime Darby’s operations in New Zealand, Pat McKenna, will assume responsibility for the Australian operations.

Mr Dommerson told GoAuto that head office had questioned the need for two managing directors in Australasia and that it was decided to merge the two roles into one.

The new role fell to Mr McKenna who runs the bigger of the two operations. Sime Darby has around 800 employees in New Zealand compared with 200 employees in Australia.

A spokesperson said that no decision had been made on whether Mr McKenna would relocate to Australia or remain in Auckland.

Sime Darby NZ operates dealerships for Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Porsche, Maserati, Volkswagen, Chrysler, Jeep, Peugeot, Dodge and Nissan. It also distributes UD Nissan Diesel, Mack, Hino, Renault and Volvo trucks and operates a national chain of truck service and parts outlets under the Truck Stops brand.

The appointment of Mr McKenna, who has been with Sime Darby for seven years, follows a strategic decision by Sime Darby to move increasingly into car retailing in Australia.

The beachhead was established last year with the purchase of the Porsche franchise in Parramatta formerly owned by Trivett Classic, and a planned opening of a Citroen dealership also in Parramatta.

With almost three decades’ experience in the Australian automotive industry, Mr Dommerson has worked for Sime Darby in Australia since the Malaysian-based multinational took over the Peugeot franchise from Inchcape Automotive here in October 2001.

He was managing director of Peugeot Automobiles Australia for seven years in which time he was said by dealers to have run Peugeot with an iron fist in a velvet glove.

Mr Dommerson went on to become head of the newly restructured Australian Sime operations, which had expanded to include the SsangYong franchise.

As well as taking on Citroen (and relinquishing SsangYong to former Citroen importer Ateco Automotive), Sime Darby is responsible for light-commercial fleet services organisation Corefleet and its retail operations include the recently acquired Porsche Centre Parramatta.

Prior to joining Sime Darby, Mr Dommerson had worked for a number of other brands in the industry, including BMW, Alfa Romeo, Mazda, Audi, Volkswagen and Jaguar.

“We want to take this opportunity to thank Rob for his contribution to the Sime Darby Motor Group businesses in Australia and to wish him every success in his future endeavours,” the company statement said.

Bill Gillespie remains the general manager of Peugeot Automobiles Australia, while John Startari is in charge of the recently acquired Citroen franchise.

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