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Nissan exec Jeff Fisher leaves amid restructure

Departed: Nissan’s motorsport chief Jeff Fisher has left the company as part of a move, Nissan says, that will ironically “see greater emphasis on specific local marketing investments such as motorsport”.

Nissan motorsport boss and unspecified number of other staff leave in restructure

21 Mar 2014

SENIOR Nissan Australia executive Jeff Fisher has left the company as the Japanese brand, which is suffering a major downturn in sales early this year, makes “numerous changes to its business structure”.

An unspecified number of other staff members have also recently left Nissan, which is preparing for a change at the helm following the announcement last month that Richard Emery would officially start as managing director and CEO on April 1.

Mr Fisher had served as Nissan’s general manager of motorsport since 2012, directing all facets of the brand’s national motorsport program with its entry into Australian V8 Supercar racing last year.

He was previously general manager of corporate communications and had overseen Nissan’s public relations since 2006, when he rejoined the company after almost 12 years as a senior manager with DaimlerChrysler. He had also worked for Nissan in the mid-1980s.

The company’s current corporate communications chief Peter Fadeyev, who took over from Mr Fisher in August 2012, told GoAuto this week that his predecessor’s departure was part of a restructure within the marketing department – “the results of which will see greater emphasis on specific local marketing investments such as motorsport”.

“The structure for motorsport within the Nissan Australia marketing team is in the process of being finalised and an announcement will be made in the near future,” he said.

Asked to provide specific details on the broader restructure affecting staffing levels at the company, Mr Fadeyev said only that: “Nissan Australia has made numerous changes to its business structure in recent months, including the deployment and size of head office staff. This change to staffing is anticipated to be a one-off change.”

Previously general manager of passenger car sales for Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific, Mr Emery takes over the top job at Nissan from Peter Jones, who took control after Bill Peffer returned to the US last September to work for rival brand Cadillac.

Mr Jones will continue as the head of Nissan Casting Australia and Nissan Financial Services in Australia and New Zealand.

 center imageLeft: Outgoing Nissan motorsport manager Jeff Fisher.

Other recent changes include the promotion of model line general manager Campbell York – another former senior manager at Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific – to the head of Nissan’s Infiniti brand late last year.

Mr York replaced Andrei Zaitzev, who left the company after only a few months to join the big Melbourne retail group Zagami Automotive as general manager of its Audi dealerships.

Within days of joining Infiniti Cars Australia as national sales manager last September, Mr Zaitzev was thrust into the role of acting general manager following the unexpected resignation of Kevin Snell.

Nissan sales are down 43.7 per cent after the first two months of trading this year, falling 41.3 and 45.7 per cent respectively in January and February. Its current market share is 5.2 per cent, down from 8.8 per cent at the same point last year.

In last year’s record market, Nissan’s sales fell 3.8 per cent, while its market share slipped from 7.2 to 6.8 per cent.

As GoAuto has reported, 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.

The reborn Pulsar was one of those models identified as a game-changer for the brand, but Nissan managed only 14,000 new registrations of the small car last year (the hatch came onboard in June) for a 5.6 per cent share of the segment – miles behind the market-leading Toyota Corolla, which racked up 43,500 sales for a 17.4 per cent share.

Compounding the problem of lower-than-expected sales last year was the issue of its dealers being over-stocked with certain models.

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