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Emery takes reins at Nissan Australia

Fresh start: Nissan Motor Co Australia has appointed former Mercedes-Benz executive Richard Emery as its new managing director and CEO.

Former Mercedes-Benz sales chief Richard Emery to take top job at Nissan Australia

21 Feb 2014

EXPERIENCED Australian motor industry executive Richard Emery will take the reins of Nissan Motor Co Australia, effective April 1.

Many industry observers and people within Nissan expected Peter Jones to continue in the role after becoming ‘interim’ managing director and CEO when Bill Peffer returned to the US last September to take up a senior sales position with Cadillac.

However, the Japanese brand has looked to another Australian to steer it out of its current sales downturn and improve its standing as one of the leading brands in the marketplace.

Nissan had set out to become the number-one full-line importer in Australia with a 10 per cent share of the entire new-vehicle market by March 2013, but this target tempered as its goals, including leadership in a number of key segments, were not realised.

In last year’s record market, Nissan’s sales actually fell 3.8 per cent, while its market share slipped from 7.2 to 6.8 per cent. It has also started this year poorly, with January sales down 41 per cent for the month.

Most recently serving as general manager of passenger car sales for Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific, Mr Emery becomes the first Australian to be permanently placed in the top job at Nissan – presiding over the Australian and New Zealand markets – since Leon Daphne’s reign from 1991 to 2004.

Since then, the company has been steered by Japanese executive Shinya Hannya (2004-2008), American Dan Thompson (2008-2012) and compatriot Bill Peffer, who was in the job for only 18 months before jumping ship to General Motors.

Nissan has advised that Mr Jones will continue as managing director of Nissan Financial Services in Australia and New Zealand – the position he held before taking on the additional responsibility of Nissan’s entire operations in the two markets – and will also take on the role of managing director of Nissan Casting Australia from April 1, which is the beginning of the company’s 2014 financial year.

Mr Emery has overseen the sales of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars in Australia and New Zealand since returning to Victoria in late 2008, dividing his time between Melbourne and his home town of Ballarat.

He spent the previous six years working for the Adelaide-based Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited in senior positions including national marketing manager and regional manager for South Australia and Western Australia.

He was general manager of advertising and marketing agency Dare from 2000 to 2002, having previously spent almost three years with Audi as regional sales manager for the Asia-Pacific region and, from 1990 to 1997, holding several management positions with Land Rover Australia across sales and marketing, network planning and brand development.

In a statement, Nissan also said that Mr Emery continues a long family tradition in the automotive industry, with his family having run dealerships in provincial Victoria.

The new boss said he was looking forward to building “sustainable growth” for Nissan and the company’s struggling luxury brand Infiniti, as well as serving the best interests of its dealer network.

Relations with the company’s retailers will be critical, following issues that surfaced last year such as dealers being over-stocked with cars and under pressure as a result of Nissan’s lower-than-expected sales performance.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to establish and implement a long-term plan to achieve solid success via sustainable growth for not only the Nissan and Infiniti brands but also the network of retailers who form the backbone of these marques in Australia,” Mr Emery said in a statement.

“I firmly believe a car company is only as strong as its dealer network so this will be among my first areas of focus.

“I’m looking forward to working with the team and all of the Nissan and Infiniti retailer partners.”

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