TURIN – Fiat brand CEO Andrea Formica has lured his former boss at Toyota Motor Europe, Thierry Dombreval, out of retirement to help end a steep decline in the Italian automaker's European sales.
Dombreval, who stepped down as Toyota Europe's chief operating officer and executive vice president in early 2010, is the new head of European sales at Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A. three passenger car brands and for Jeep, according to an internal document seen by Automotive News Europe.
Formica, who is also head of passenger sales at Fiat Group Automobiles, said in the document, dated Jan. 10, 2011, that Dombreval has been “assigned responsibility for the new position of Sales Europe, reporting to me.”
Fiat declined to comment.
Dombreval is a seasoned auto executive who has gained extensive pan-European experience while working at Ford, Renault and Toyota. During his nearly eight years with Toyota Europe, the 63-year-old Frenchman won praise for his ability to work so well within diverse regional European cultures as he built up the Japanese automaker's business in new markets. That skill and his deep knowledge of the industry earned him the Automotive News Europe Eurostar award for Sales & Marketing in 2004.
As Toyota Europe vice president for sales, marketing, product planning and communication, Formica, 50, reported to Dombreval, who at the time of his departure was the highest ranking European executive at Toyota Motor Corp.
Formica joined Fiat from Toyota Europe in September 2010. Along with running the Fiat brand, the Italian national oversees sales at the Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Lancia brands and leads Chrysler's European sales.
Formica inherited a group of brands that is in trouble. European sales for the Alfa, Fiat and Lancia brands fell 17.4 percent to 1.02 million units last year, according to industry association ACEA. That decline was three times worse than the overall market, which was down 5.5 percent to 13.36 million units. Fiat's sales decline has hit the bottom line, according to Bernstein Research auto analyst Max Warburton, who estimates that Fiat Group Automobiles lost almost 800 million euros ($1.07 billion) in Europe in 2010.
Fiat will report its unit sales and financial data for 2010 on January 27.