Jean-Marc Gales took over in May as Lotus CEO, filling a post vacant since Dany Bahar was fired in 2012. The struggling British sports carmaker lost 159 million pounds (203 million euros) in its fiscal year ended March 31, 2013 and 115 million pounds in fiscal 2012, according to the Malaysian-owned company’s most recent financial records. Lotus is axing up to 325 of its 1,215 employees worldwide to help cut costs and stem losses. Gales, the former No. 2 at PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, told Automotive News Europe Correspondent Nick Gibbs his next task is to add more dealers.
What are your priorities for Lotus?
The focus has been on the commercial side, making sure we sell more cars, provide better coverage via our dealer network and develop a more precise marketing program. We also have restructured the whole company and given program management more power.
How is it going?
In the first four months of this financial year [which started April] we sold 46 percent more cars, but that’s still not sufficient to guarantee our future. We need to continue to reduce costs and we are fully aware of the hardship that brings for our workforce.
Many people are passionate about Lotus cars. Why doesn’t that translate into more sales?
One reason is that we don’t have enough dealers, even in the UK. There is no dealer in London, and nor is there in Paris, Madrid, northern Italy, Hamburg or Berlin. More dealers drive more sales. We have opened nine new dealerships worldwide over the past six months and I would not exclude having 20 more in this financial year.