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McCann to return as head of Volvo in Australia

Back in the spotlight: After spending the past four years as a high-level automotive industry consultant, Kevin McCann is set to join Volvo Car Australia as managing director.

Top auto industry exec Kevin McCann to lead Volvo into new era as Braid steps down

4 Sep 2014

ONE of Australia’s leading motor industry executives, Kevin McCann, has been appointed managing director of Volvo Car Australia (VCA) and will lead the Swedish brand into a new era that began last week with the world premiere of the next-generation XC90.

Just six days after the covers came off the redesigned SUV in Stockholm, marking a full-scale relaunch of the brand worldwide, VCA managing director Matt Braid made the unexpected announcement that “the time is right” for him to leave the company, three-and-a-half years after taking on the role.

“Since early 2014 I have been in discussions about my future career within Volvo Cars, including a number of overseas roles,” Mr Braid said in a statement.

“But after 11 enjoyable years with the Volvo brand, I have decided the time is right for me to leave the company and explore some new challenges.

“To that end, I am pleased to be able to announce that Kevin McCann has been appointed to the role of managing director. I am sure he will do an excellent job of leading the Volvo brand to the next stage of its growth in Australia.”

The changeover officially takes place on October 13, with Mr McCann bringing more than 35 years’ experience to the position.

After a shock departure in late 2009 from Hyundai Motor Co Australia (HMCA), where in less than three years as sales and marketing director he had overseen a substantial rise in market share and sales, Mr McCann has since worked as a consultant to the industry in Australia and overseas.

His assignments have included working as an “embedded management consultant” for Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti in the Middle East, and executive roles with Saudi retail groups Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors (Rolls-Royce, BMW/Mini, Jaguar Land Rover and Hyundai) and Manahil (Tata, Ankai).

As GoAuto has reported, Mr McCann left Hyundai under controversial circumstances, with the sales and marketing director position split into two upon his departure and all parties declining to comment on the sudden exit.

HMCA denied accusations around that time that his departure was related to the company’s failure to pay a promised bonus for reaching 60,000 sales, with then chief executive Edward Lee saying that all payments had been honoured.

Mr McCann joined the Australian automotive industry in the late 1970s, starting as a zone manager for International Harvester Australia and moving to BMW Australia in 1984 as a regional sales manager. He spent six years with the German luxury car marque before joining Inchcape Motors Australia (which handles the Subaru brand), serving for four years as national sales manager.

In 1995 he was engaged by Audi AG to establish sales and marketing operations in several Asian markets. He subsequently led the establishment of the Audi brand in China and spent a further three years as managing director of the Volkswagen Group in Singapore.

He took a “mid-career break” in 2004/05 to join R L Polk and Co as a senior vice-president, leading the set-up of Polk in China and assisting operations throughout the region, particularly in Japan, Thailand and Australia.

He later returned to the VW Group as executive vice-president of the Volkswagen brand at the FAW-Volkswagen joint-venture sales company in China before repatriating to Australia to take on the HMCA sales and marketing job in April 2007, filling the vacancy created earlier that year when Theo van Doore left for an executive position with Queensland motor group Zupps.

At Volvo, Mr McCann will be charged with improving the Swedish brand’s sales and market share in the increasingly competitive Australian new-vehicle market, matching the strong growth rates of its premium competitors as a new wave of redesigned models arrive, starting with the XC90 in the first half of next year.

Mr Braid has worked for VCA since 2003 and took over the top job in March 2011 after his predecessor Alan Desselss was promoted to president and CEO of Volvo Cars Japan.

He had previously served as sales director and, earlier, marketing director and regional business manager.

Before joining Volvo, Mr Braid spent three years with Holden as an area manager, and two years in Dubai as market development manager for Bin Dhaher Trading Enterprises.

Under his leadership, Volvo sales have improved around two per cent per annum, with last year’s 3.7 per cent downturn the only blip on the chart. Sales are up 3.8 per cent so far this year.

In a statement, the company highlighted record sales, a customer satisfaction award, the Polestar performance car pilot project and the brand’s entry into V8 Supercar racing as key milestones on Mr Braid’s watch.

Volvo Cars International vice-president Thomas Andersson said: “We would like to thank Matt for his contribution to the Volvo business over the last few years, and wish him all the best in the future.

“Based on Matt’s decision, and to ensure a seamless transition, he will work with Kevin on a handover process commencing in late September.

“I would like to welcome Kevin to Volvo Car Australia. He comes with an impressive automotive background and I look forward to working with him in the future.”

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