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Top Aussie Jaguar Land Rover exec to retire

Moving on: David Blackhall has played a key role in the growth of Jaguar and Land Rover in Australia over the past decade, and is now looking forward to ‘other business challenges’.

JLR Asia-Pacific chief David Blackhall to step down, retirement sparks restructure

1 Sep 2014

JAGUAR Land Rover’s Asia-Pacific regional director David Blackhall is preparing to retire at the end of September after more than 15 years of service, most of those as the key figure behind the two British brands in Australia.

JLR’s group sales operations director Andy Goss announced last week that the company’s regional director for ‘Overseas’ markets Dmitry Kolchanov will absorb responsibility for the Asia-Pacific region, effective October 1.

This will stimulate an “updated first line structure” and reduce JLR’s global regions to five, but Jaguar Land Rover Australia has advised that there will be no change to the Australian leadership team headed by Michael Winkler.

Mr Blackhall was previously in charge of both JLR Australia and the Asia-Pacific region, but handed the local reins to Mr Winkler – a former managing director of Porsche Cars Australia – in November last year to focus solely on the company’s fastest-growing region which includes Australia, Japan and South Korea.

China is a separate region, along with the UK, North America, Europe and ‘all other markets’ (known as ‘Overseas’). The latter includes India, home to JLR parent Tata Motors.

Mr Goss said in a communiqué to staff that Mr Blackhall had made a “significant contribution to the business” over the years.

“David has played a pivotal role in the growth of Jaguar Land Rover in Australia and more recently within the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.

Mr Blackhall has been responsible for the Asia-Pacific region since December 2010, when the company restructured its business units into geographical zones for both Land Rover and Jaguar.

Previously, the two brands operated separate international streams controlled from head office in the UK.

A qualified CPA with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Queensland and an MBA from the University of Melbourne, Mr Blackhall has had a long career in the automotive industry in Australia and overseas.

Starting out in the finance office at Ford Australia, Mr Blackhall went on to become director of marketing at Ford Motor Co’s subsidiary in Taiwan, Ford Lio Ho, and director of internet services, e-Tools and TVM (team value management) at the Blue Oval’s headquarters in Detroit.

He spent five years in the US with Ford, taking on a number of management roles, before returning to Sydney in February 2004 to take the reins of Jaguar Australia – then part of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group – from former PAG Australia chief Richard Snijders, who had been managing the business after long-time local boss Danny Rezek left the company in controversial circumstances in November 2003.

During his career Mr Blackhall also owned and operated automotive dealerships in Sydney, and held senior positions at advertising agency J Walter Thompson.

In an email last week, Mr Blackhall said he had “no intention of completely ‘retiring’ – but I do intend to get off the 24/7 meeting and phone conference cycle and do a lot less long-haul business travel”.

“That said, I’m looking forward to stepping into other business challenges with great enthusiasm,” he said.

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