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Senior management changes at JLR Australia

Sharper claws: Forthcoming models such as the mid-sized XE and Discovery promise an exciting future lies ahead for JLR in Australia.

Jaguar Land Rover restructures top management team ahead of model range expansion

23 May 2014

JAGUAR Land Rover Australia has restructured its senior management team, with former Skoda and Fiat Chrysler executive Matthew Wiesner joining as sales and operations director and former Porsche sales and marketing chief Kevin Nicholls taking on the newly created position of marketing director.

Chris Lidis, who most recently served as operations director for JLR Australia, becomes aftersales director, responsible for all aspects of customer service, technical support, parts and training.

As GoAuto has reported, Mr Wiesner left Fiat Chrysler Group unexpectedly in August last year after only four months with the company as chief operating officer and director of sales.

He was previously Skoda Australia’s director and had led Volkswagen’s Czech brand since its inception in 2007, moving from general manager of press and PR at VW Group Australia.

He also worked as national business and marketing manager for VW Commercial Vehicles, and earlier served as an area manager in the same division.

Since leaving Fiat Chrysler, Mr Wiesner had set up a consultancy called SEED Growth Strategies. At JLR he will oversee the sales, dealer development, planning and distribution teams.

Meanwhile, in a move that sees him working again with former Porsche Cars Australia boss (and now Jaguar Land Rover Australia managing director) Michael Winkler, Mr Nicholls brings to JLR almost two decades’ experience with Porsche in Australia, the United States and Britain.

 center imageFrom top: Matthew Wiesner and Chris Lidis.

He has spent the past nine years as director of sales and marketing at Porsche Cars Australia, and also worked for Porsche Cars North America and marketing communications manager from 1998 to 2004.

Prior to that, Mr Nicholls spent three years as marketing strategy manager for Porsche Cars GB.

The new marketing director role at JLR was created, the company says, “to manage the upcoming launches of the expanded product portfolios for both brands and manage the brand messages”.

The forthcoming all-new XE sedan due here in 2015 will be a key launch for Jaguar, while Land Rover is preparing for a host of redesigned models including a new Discovery and the Freelander-replacing Discovery Sport.

All three directors report to Mr Winkler, who took the reins as managing director of JLR Australia in November last year after eight years as managing director of Porsche Cars Australia.

As reported, Mr Winkler was offered a senior Asia-Pacific regional management position in Singapore after the company announced in May last year that it had hired expatriate Australian and former Porsche Cars North America COO Michael Bartsch as its new managing director.

Mr Bartsch subsequently elected to remain in the US, moving to rival brand Infiniti as vice-president for the Americas region, but Mr Winkler also left the company as planned. Porsche Cars Australia later hired Sam Curtis to the top job.

Announcing the changes today, Mr Winkler said the management restructure was designed to “maximise the future growth opportunities for the company”.

“This reorganisation represents a natural evolution of our team in Australia designed to build our brands and focus on our customers,” he said.

Mr Lidis’ move to aftersales director is described as a key role designed to “heighten the company’s focus on customer service”.

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