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New chief for Jaguar Land Rover in Australia

Top job: Matthew Wiesner now officially holds the reins at JLR Australia after working as acting managing director in recent months, following the departure of Michael Winkler.

Wiesner takes reins of JLR Australia as Winkler heads to Bentley in US

18 Mar 2015

JAGUAR Land Rover Australia has appointed Matthew Wiesner as managing director, following his predecessor Michael Winkler’s move to Bentley Motors earlier this year.

A former Skoda and Fiat Chrysler executive in Australia and most recently sales operations director for JLR Australia, Mr Wiesner has been in the role of acting head of the company since Mr Winkler resigned in January to become president and CEO of Bentley Motors Inc – the British luxury brand’s regional office for the Americas, based in Herndon, Virginia.

Mr Wiesner joined JLR in May last year, having left the Fiat Chrysler Group in August 2013 after only four months with the company as chief operating officer and director of sales.

He was previously Skoda Australia’s director and had led Volkswagen’s Czech brand since its inception in 2007, moving from general manager of press and PR at VW Group Australia.

He also worked as national business and marketing manager for VW Commercial Vehicles, and earlier served as an area manager in the same division.

In the period between leaving Fiat Chrysler and joining JLR, Mr Wiesner set up a consultancy called SEED Growth Strategies.

In a statement announcing his appointment this week, Mr Wiesner, who as sales operations director has overseen the sales, dealer development, planning and distribution teams, said he was “delighted to take over this important position at this most exciting time for the company”.

“The Jaguar Land Rover brands are in a great position with new products in the pipeline for the next three years to fulfil the expectations which we have set for ourselves and our dealers,” he said.

JLR Australia has advised that the company is yet to appoint a new head of sales operations to replace Mr Wiesner, who comes to the top job as both the Jaguar and Land Rover brands prepare for a number of significant new model launches this year, including the all-new Jaguar XE mid-size sedan and the Land Rover Freelander-replacing Discovery Sport.

The Range Rover Sport SVR and Sport Hybrid models are also just around the corner.

Sales of both brands are running at similar levels this year to the early stages of 2014, with Jaguar volume up 1.2 per cent after two months of trading, and Land Rover 2.1 per cent ahead.

For the full year last year, Jaguar sales climbed 5.6 per cent to 1167 units, while Land Rover sales surged 21 per cent to 10,106 new registrations.

Mr Winkler, meanwhile, had spent only just over a year at JLR Australia, joining in November 2013 after earlier that year leaving his post as managing director of Porsche Cars Australia.

As GoAuto has reported, Porsche had named Michael Bartsch as its incoming head of Australian operations – a one-time sales and marketing director of the company who went on to become chief operating officer for Porsche Cars North America – but subsequently turned to former Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific sales chief Sam Curtis after Mr Bartsch decided to remain in the US and join Infiniti as vice-president of the Americas (a job he left last month).

Mr Winkler had overseen the Australian Porsche operations since 1995. GoAuto understands that he was offered a senior Asia-Pacific regional management position based in Singapore when the company announced in May 2013 that it was hiring a new managing director, but he declined, preferring instead to remain in Australia for personal reasons.

He will now relocate to the US, effective April 1, replacing Christophe Georges who was recently appointed director of product and marketing for Bentley’s global organisation.

Mr Winkler will report directly to Bentley Motors’ board member responsible for sales, marketing and aftersales, Kevin Rose, who said: “The Americas region plays a key part in Bentley’s global success, our biggest market with more Bentley customers than anywhere else in the world.

“I am delighted to welcome Michael to Bentley, and look forward to working with him to drive our brand and network presence further.”

Over more than three decades working in the automotive industry, Mr Winkler also had stints with Porsche in Germany and North America.

Bentley delivered 3186 cars through 53 dealerships in the Americas region last year, up from 3140 in 2013.

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