New Managing Director Mark Bernhard has begun his position as the boss of Holden and the first Australian to run the company in 25 years.
MARK Bernhard has taken over the top job at Holden after former MD Jerry Dorizas left suddenly in October last year only eight months into the job. With Dorizas' exit, Jeff Rolfs took up a caretaker position before Bernhard, who joined Holden in 1986, was appointed to the role which he commenced last week.
Holden faces similar challengers to cross-town rival Ford, which also has a recenlty installed MD, as both companies end local manufacturing to become sales companies with fully-imported line-ups. It's a critical time in the company's history as it looks for a cohesive brand identity beyond its catchcry of the 1980s of 'Australia’s Own'.
The company has already confirmed that the Holden Commodore nameplate will be used on an imported model once local production ceases in 2017, and that its products will continue to be tuned at its Lang Lang, Victoria, proving ground.
Bernhard, who completed a Bachelor of Business (accounting) at Monash University in Victoria and has worked for General Motors in Zurich, Shanghai and Singapore, has ambitiously committed to Holden to reclaiming the top spot on local sales sheets, something it last achieved in 2002. Currently, it sits in third position behind a strong Mazda and ahead of a fast-closing Hyundai, with its 8.9% market share down on this time last year, when it commanded a 10.1% stake.
There's also daylight between market leader Toyota and every other maker, with its sales more than double that of Holden's so far this year (101,714 plays 51,737 at the end of June).
“Re-establishing Holden as Australia’s favourite car brand means a total focus on our customers, redefining the Holden brand and launching 24 world-class vehicles by 2020,” read a statement from the new Holden chief. “We are taking the long view; this is not going to happen overnight. It is going to be challenging and we have plenty of hard work ahead but I’m energised by our potential.”
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