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Skoda appoints new boss in Australia

Reload: Skoda is hoping its new Rapid small car and Octavia replacement will help it to resume its rise in Australia under new director Michael Irmer.

Volkswagen manager set to return from Germany to head Skoda in Australia

Skoda logo10 Jan 2013

By RON HAMMERTON

A VOLKSWAGEN manager with five years’ experience in Australia is set to fill the vacancy at the helm of Skoda Australia from March 1.

German-born Michael Irmer, who was based in Australia with VW between 2004 and 2009, will return from the company’s Wolfsburg headquarters replace Matthew Wiesner as director of Skoda, which operates as a division of VW Group Australia.

Most recently, Mr Irmer has been responsible for product and price planning for China and ASEAN markets, but previously was financial controller and dealer development manager in Australia.

Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Anke Koeckler said Mr Irmer would bring a wealth of experience and skills to the position, providing the Skoda brand with the focus and strategic direction to succeed in a competitive market.

Mr Weisner had headed Skoda since 2007. His departure from Skoda Australia was announced by VW Group Australia in October and he left the group before Christmas.

After rapid growth in 2011, sales of Czech-made Skoda vehicles in Australia marked time in 2012, up just one vehicle – from 3501 cars to 3502 – according to official VFACTS figures.

In January last year, Mr Weisner told GoAuto he hoped to double Skoda sales in 2012 on the back of a broader range of Yeti and Fabia models and revival of the Roomster.

In December, Skoda sales fell off a cliff, down 82 per cent, with the brand recording just 116 sales for the month compared with 653 the previous year. By contrast, VW sales were up almost 30 per cent for the month and 22.6 per cent for the year.

VW Group Australia general manager communications Karl Gehling said Skoda had chosen not to partake in the aggressive market push by many manufacturers towards the end of the year.

Instead, Skoda had chosen to maintain its marketing position with an eye on long-term growth, he said.

In 2013, Skoda is looking for a major boost from two new entrants: the Rapid small car in mid year and all-new replacement for the Octavia mid-sizer in the second half.

The Octavia and its Scout derivative were Skoda’s biggest seller in Australia last year, accounting for about a third of the brand’s sales.

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