BRUSSELS - Nissan Europe has replaced its sales and marketing boss with a Renault executive who will lead a joint effort by the partners to cut distribution costs.
Mario Canavesi, formerly head of Renault in Germany, will take over as vice president of sales and marketing at Nissan Europe on April 1. Swiss-born Canavesi, 57, joins Nissan as it prepares to overhaul operations in the European markets where it owns the distributors - the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Hartmut Kieven, a long-time Ford executive who held the job since mid-1998, resigned last week.
Nissan and Renault are due to complete a study by April on how they can jointly reduce distribution costs in the seven markets.
Nissan Europe President Ian Gibson said there are no plans to turn Nissan distribution over to Renault or to close national distributors. But he said the partners want to combine all activities that aren't essential to maintaining their brand identities.
Nissan sales and marketing will be coordinated on a pan-European basis rather than by national sales companies.
Canavesi headed Renault in Italy for three years before moving to Germany in 1997.
'We decided to reinforce and strengthen our top management team in terms of the broad scope of operations in Europe versus country-by-country,' said Gibson.
The new sales and distribution system will be based on what Nissan and Renault call hubs - geographic areas in which large dealers sell both brands and offer parts and service. Gibson said the hub plan may mean significantly fewer dealers in some countries.