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New boss for Infiniti in Australia

European focus: Jean-Philippe Roux has been a key figure in planning and executing Infiniti’s growth in southern Europe, and will now lead the fledgling Australian business.

Infiniti looks to Europe for new Australian MD as Roux comes in, Campbell moves on

Infiniti logo19 Sep 2014

By TERRY MARTIN

INFINITI has announced the appointment of Jean-Philippe Roux as managing director of its Australian operations, replacing Campbell York from November 1 and charged with taking “the next growth steps” for the struggling Japanese premium car brand.

Currently regional director of Infiniti’s southern Europe region, Mr Roux will relocate from France to Australia as Mr York, who has led the fledgling brand since the end of last year, pursues a yet-to-be-revealed “independent venture from later this year”.

Mr Roux’s appointment marks a change in tack from Nissan’s luxury marque as it restructures its overall operations in the Asia and Oceania region and imports an executive to lead the Australian business rather than recruit from within Nissan Australia or the broader local motor industry.

While Mr Roux will move in as managing director, Mr York’s short tenure as general manager is now being described as “interim” after he stepped up to the position from his previous role as model line general manager for Nissan when Andrei Zaitzev left the company, after only a few months in the job, to join Melbourne retail group Zagami Automotive.

As GoAuto has reported, Mr Zaitzev was thrust into the role of general manager within days of joining Infiniti Cars Australia as national sales manager last September, following the unexpected resignation of Kevin Snell.

Mr Snell was part of the team established to launch Infiniti in Australia in 2012, leading the brand after a two-year stint as a senior product planner at Nissan.

 center image Left: Outgoing Infiniti general manager Campbell York and former Infiniti general managers Kevin Snell and Andrei Zaitzev.

Mr Roux’s appointment comes just a week after Infiniti named former BMW Group executive Roland Krueger as its new global president, replacing Johan de Nysschen who jumped ship to General Motors in July.

The brand was subsequently being run by Nissan executive vice-president Andy Palmer until he, too, resigned earlier this month to become Aston Martin’s new chief executive.

Infiniti, which under Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has set ambitious sales targets, said in a statement this week that it considers Australia “one of its most important” markets, despite the fact that it has struggled since launch here and managed only 300 sales in 2013, its first full year of trading.

The brand has been impeded by a limited model range, low brand awareness, marginal dealer representation and the German brands’ domination of the Australian prestige car landscape, as well as speculation that it might follow Opel in pulling out from the highly competitive marketplace after finding the going too tough early on.

Senior representatives overseas and in Australia have since dismissed any suggestion of a premature exit.

Pricing was slashed across the range toward the end of last year and sales have improved in 2014 with the launch of the Q50 mid-size sedan, although just 280 new registrations for the entire brand to the end of August this year place it well behind its rivals.

Infiniti’s director of operations in Asia and Oceania, Dane Fisher, said: “This leadership change is a vital step within a restructuring Infiniti is undertaking in the Asia and Oceania region, changes which are designed to maximise our business performance over the longer-term.

“Jean-Philippe will be a great asset to Infiniti in Australia. Campbell York has done a critical job leading Infiniti in its local post-launch phase and has prepared the way for Jean-Philippe to take the next growth steps for our brand.”

A Frenchman, Mr Roux has served as head of Infiniti’s Southern Europe division since May 2012 and is described as having contributed significantly to the planning and execution of Infiniti’s business growth in the region, which covers France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Italy.

He previously worked in a variety of sales and marketing positions with Nissan, including dealer performance manager for the Western Europe region, crossover category manager for Nissan Motor GB and network development and customer service manager for Nissan Motor Europe.

Earlier in his career he worked as an automotive and CRM consultant at the BearingPoint agency, having moved from Fiat Auto SpA where he was responsible for direct marketing.

Mr Roux will be replaced by Badreiddine Mansouri, currently sales and dealer network development deputy general manager for Infiniti Middle East.

Although recruited from within Nissan Australia, both Mr York and Mr Snell had previous experience with luxury car brands.

Mr York spent many years at Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific, serving as general manager of sales operations for Daimler Trucks, senior executive in charge of Mercedes-Benz Vans, national sales manager and Western Australia regional manager.

Mr Snell previously worked for Saab in a variety of sales and marketing roles in Australia and overseas, having joined the Swedish brand in late 2000 after a year with Ford Australia in its graduate marketing program.

Mr Zaitzev also came to the brand with prestige brand experience, having previously served as general manager of Alfa Romeo when it was run by independent distributor Ateco Automotive.

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