TOKYO -- Infiniti is rejoining the Nissan mothership by moving its headquarters back to Japan.
The Japanese premium brand will relocate its head office from Hong Kong to Yokohama in the middle of next year in a push to centralize and streamline operations, the company said.
The announcement on Wednesday comes seven years after Infiniti set up shop in Hong Kong in a bid to establish itself as an international brand and build inroads into the mammoth Chinese market.
Infiniti's return to Japan comes as the brand restructures its global footprint and reels from rapid management turnover. In March, Infiniti said it would discontinue the Q30 and QX30 models, cease production at Nissan's plant in England and exit business in Western Europe.
Infiniti President Christian Meunier left the job earlier this month to become the global president of the Jeep brand at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Meunier had been in that post for all of four months, following the departure of his predecessor, Roland Krueger. Krueger, who left to take the top job at Dyson's automotive unit, had led the brand since 2015.
Infiniti said the relocation would facilitate better coordination with the Nissan parent company. Much of Infiniti's r&d, product development and design work had never left Japan.
"It will be great for all of us to be closer to product," Infiniti spokesman Trevor Hale said. "While we share a great deal of architecture and technology with Nissan today, there are opportunities to do a lot more, while maintaining premium distinction for customers."
The consolidation will especially benefit development of Infiniti's electrification plans, as well as facilitate platform sharing and back-office operations, Infiniti said. Infiniti will get its first EV in 2021 and expects electrified models to account for half of its global sales by 2025.
Nissan has been ratcheting up cost control amid plunging profits at the parent company. CEO Hiroto Saikawa said this month that operations are hitting "rock bottom" as he announced a 45 percent drop in fiscal-year operating profit to its lowest level in more than a decade.
The change comes as Infiniti faces sliding sales in the U.S., its biggest market. U.S. sales declined 2.7 percent to 149,280 vehicles last year, while global volume fell 5.2 percent to 233,445.
To improve results, Infiniti is refocusing its global operations on North America and China, while continuing to seek growth opportunities in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Infiniti has about 180 employees in Hong Kong. It plans to assist those not relocating to Japan.