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New boss for Honda Australia

Get selling: Honda’s CR-V is one of the new models that new managing director Noriyuki Takakura will be banking on to move its Australian operation into top gear.

Sales specialist to head Honda Australia as critical new models roll into showrooms

Honda logo25 Feb 2013

By RON HAMMERTON

HONDA has appointed a sales executive to head up its Australian outpost for the next three years as the company’s selling efforts move into top gear with the arrival of key new models.

Japanese-based Noriyuki Takakura, 44, replaces Satoshi Matsuzawa who is headed back to Japan to become managing director of the company’s charitable arm, The Honda Foundation.

Mr Takakura, who has been with Honda only 11 years and appears to be on his first overseas posting for the company, will receive the baton from Mr Matsuzawa on April 1 in the regular three-year change at the top of Honda’s Australian car import and sales operations based at Tullamarine in Melbourne.

A graduate of Kyoto University, Mr Takakura is currently sales operations senior manager for Honda in Hokkaido, Japan’s large northern island, having worked previously in planning roles in regional sales and marketing since joining Honda in 2002.

While Mr Matsuzawa spent time in the United States at Honda’s North Carolina operations before being assigned to the Australian helm, Mr Takakura’s CV appears to show that Australia will be his first venture outside Japan.

 center imageOutgoing Honda Australia managing director Satoshi Matsuzawa.

Mr Takakura will be guided locally by sales and marketing director Stephen Collins, who has been the most senior Australian at Honda Australia since Lindsay Smalley stepped down as senior director in 2011 and then retired in December.

The new boss will arrive in Australia to find Honda in a state of relative serenity compared with the past three years, during which Mr Matsuzawa was forced to deal with massive supply disruptions due to natural disasters in Japan and Thailand, and an ageing product line-up due to product development delays caused by the global financial crisis.

With a new Civic and CR-V in play and an all-new Accord in the pipeline for launch this year, Honda Australia is hoping to claw back sales lost since its peak of 60,529 in 2007.

Last year, Honda’s sales improved 14.5 per cent, to 32,193 vehicles.

Honda is this week launching its first new model for the year, the Jazz Hybrid.

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