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Preston Motors CEO resigns

Ten not out: John Bradley will leave Preston Motors Group in excellent shape as it seeks a new chief for the top role.

John Bradley steps down from top job at one of Australia’s oldest dealer networks

General News logo8 Jul 2015

AFTER a decade at the helm of one of Australia’s oldest dealer networks, Preston Motors Group chief executive officer John Bradley has resigned from his post.

Mr Bradley, 60, told GoAuto that most CEOs had a shelf life of five years, and he felt it was the right time to pass the baton onto someone else.

“I’ve loved every minute of it,” he said. “The family are great to work for, and it’s been a really enjoyable journey.”

During his tenure at the 103-year-old company, Mr Bradley navigated it through considerable change, including the appointment of the group as the only independent authorised Porsche dealer in Melbourne, opening outlets in Brighton and Doncaster.

He also oversaw a large-scale expansion of the operation, with four dealerships and two parts warehouses built during his time in the top role.

The group also runs Melbourne's sole Infiniti dealership, which was opened in 2013.

Its concessions also include Holden, HSV, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Foton.

Mr Bradley said that the realignment of the digital landscape was the single biggest change he had seen, while increasing pressures on new-vehicle margins presented the biggest challenge.

“The swing of automotive from traditional media to online has been significant.

The business is still really built on people, though, and without great people, you don’t have a great business, so I don’t see that changing too much,” he said.

“Manufacturers and market shares have changed considerably, of course. New-car margins in the volume brands have been declining over the years, and the challenge has been to meet the ongoing pressures of the business.”

Mr Bradley noted that one of the biggest changes to the dealership landscape in the next ten years will be in the area of real estate.

“I’m sure the day will arrive when there will be a lesser number of dealers, as real estate costs price them out of the market,” he said.

Mr Bradley will remain in his role until a new chief executive officer is appointed. “I blind-sided them with this,” he said. “They’ll go to market and find the best possible person they can to fill the role.”

He is not certain whether he will return to the automotive industry. “It might sound strange, but I haven’t really thought about my next move,” he said. “I’ve told myself until this phase is finished, I’m not going to contemplate the next one.”

He does know, however, what he’ll be doing in his break.

“My wife is a keen golfer, and I’m sure she’ll be dragging me out around the course, trying to get me as keen as she is.” Before his time at Preston Motors Group, Mr Bradley was the managing director of the Politis Group of Dealerships in Melbourne was was a partner in a metropolitan Toyota dealership. So far he has spent 40 years working in Australia's automotive industry.

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