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HSV looks to Jackson for leadership

Evolving: The current HSV GTS is based on the Commodore rear-drive platform, but HSVs of the future will have a far more open sand-box to play in.

Holden hot shop HSV promotes sales, marketing chief Tim Jackson to managing director

HSV logo27 Feb 2014

HOLDEN Special Vehicles (HSV) has promoted sales and marketing director Tim Jackson to managing director, replacing Phil Harding at the head of the lion brand’s performance division.

Mr Jackson is now facing the task of leading HSV through a period in which Holden is pulling out of Australian manufacturing and, in 2017, ending production of its locally engineered Commodore and derivatives – the basis for HSV’s entire model range.

Established in 1987, HSV has vowed to continue trading in the post-Commodore era, adapting to “a new operating environment” that relies on fully imported vehicles built using global platforms rather than a unique Australian rear-drive vehicle architecture.

As well as playing a central role in the development of its Holden-based muscle-cars, HSV has also been heavily involved in contract engineering work for GMH over many years and has run separate businesses such as HSVi and ‘Holden by Design’.

Mr Jackson is a sales and marketing specialist who joined HSV in 2009 as general manager of marketing, planning and communications after almost six years working in senior marketing positions in Australia and Japan at sports apparel and footwear giant Adidas.

In contrast, Mr Harding is an engineer by trade, rising to chief engineer of Rolls-Royce after starting his career as an apprentice with the hallowed British luxury brand.

He has spent the past two decades with the Walkinshaw organisation, relocating to Australia in 2002 at the behest of HSV founder, the late Tom Walkinshaw, to lead the company’s engineering operations, and subsequently rising to managing director in 2005.

HSV owner and director Ryan Walkinshaw said Mr Jackson was well credentialed to lead the company as it restructures in line with Holden’s manufacturing exit over the next three years.

“Tim has most recently led our sales, marketing, product planning and HR functions, and is ideally positioned to continue our focus on performance, innovation, and design,” Mr Walkinshaw said.

“Tim will bring to his new leadership position an intimate knowledge of our business and its culture, as well as his international and multinational experience.” Mr Walkinshaw added that Mr Harding would remain on the HSV board as a non-executive director and continue to work on “key projects”, albeit at a reduced capacity.

“I would like to thank Phil for his leadership, as well as his 19 years working within the Walkinshaw family businesses,” he said.

“Phil has contributed an enormous amount to HSV and, previous to that, TWR (Tom Walkinshaw Racing). We cannot thank him enough for the commitment, experience and expertise that he has brought to the various businesses in which he has been involved.

“Phil is keen to spend more time with his family and have more flexibility to travel – but he isn’t ready to check out completely. Phil will continue to work, three days a week, on key projects.” Mr Harding has had two separate stints as managing director. He took the reins from founding MD John Crennan for a couple of years before HSV hired former Toyota and Lexus product and marketing executive Scott Grant in 2007 – a move that enabled Mr Harding to return to the UK as director of export programs – but returned to the post when Mr Grant left in August 2008 after only 14 months in the job.

After Holden announced in December that it was closing down its manufacturing operations by the end of 2017, Mr Harding issued a statement “to assure all our fans that HSV plans to continue”.

“Our business at Clayton has been providing excitement to the auto industry for the last 26 years and we don’t plan to stop,” he said. “Our product offering has been evolving constantly and will continue to do so. Change is not new for our business and we will continue to adapt, successfully, to a new operating environment.

“The fantastic response to our new Gen-F range only confirms in our minds that there is, and will continue to be a strong, viable market for performance vehicles in Australia. So very simply, our job is, as it has always been, to deliver a great high-performance car.” Mr Jackson told GoAuto at the time that HSV’s core philosophy would carry on after Holden closed down its operations – including the Lang Lang proving ground, which HSV uses to develop its vehicles – and would look to other facilities such as the Australian Automotive Research Centre at Anglesea.

“Our job is to deliver a great car into the marketplace,” he said. “The context of whether it is made here or overseas isn’t the key factor the key factor is can we deliver a great car into the marketplace? “From our perspective it is slightly different, but our intent is that we will continue to deliver a great product.” He also said the company would “not rule out any platform or any formula” in terms of future models.

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