New focus on sales
As part of the initiative, three GM Europe executives will take control of sales and marketing at the companys key brands March 1.
1. Alain Visser becomes GM Europes vice president for Opel. Vissers old job was GM Europe chief marketing officer, a job that is being abolished as the company gives the former group-run responsibility to the brands.
2. Wayne Brannon will become GM Europes vice president for Chevrolet. Currently, Brannon is executive director of Chevrolet Europe.
3. Jan-Ake Jonsson remains managing director of Saab.
GMs Vauxhall brand in the UK will be unaffected by the change, with its managing director, Bill Parfitt, reporting directly to Dewar on sales matters.
Dewar said GM Europes multibrand structure had served the carmaker well but, We will now transfer to a setup with more autonomy for the individual brands.
Dewar said making the changes now will allow Opel, Chevrolet and Saab to develop their own marketing strategies for the launches key of models this year.
Opel will launch a new generation of its Astra lower-medium car, Chevrolet will introduce the Cruze lower-medium car and Saab will launch a new 9-5 medium-premium car.
Dewar said there would be some cost savings as a result of the reorganization, although this was not the main reason for the change.
We started with the multibrand model and now we are going to the next level. Europe is not a one-size fits all solution, Dewar said. Chevrolet is very different from Opel and both are different from Saab.
Chevrolet is GMs value-for-money brand in Europe. Opel is its mid-priced volume seller and Saab is a near-premium carmaker.
Chevrolets Brannon said the restructuring will boost the brands profile in Europe.
We intend to be more of a player in Europe, he said.
Despite the economic downturn, Chevrolet increased its sales in Europe, including Russia and Turkey, by 10.7 percent to 507,000 cars last year.
Brannon provided an example of how the structural change should make the brands more responsive. He said that earlier this month he arranged the movement of 400 Chevrolets from one country to another with a 45-minute phone call.
That is the kind of responsiveness we want in future, Brannon said. It would have been much slower under the old structure.
Other areas where marketing could be changed include pricing and marketing campaigns adapted to fit each market. Saabs Jonsson said the new structure would let the carmaker react faster to changes in the market.
Said Jonsson: We will not be working through many different layers and we can better focus our brand.