Carmaker PSA picks new head of British unit Vauxhall

Peugeot put their man in the driver's seat at Vauxhall
Peugeot put their man in the driver's seat at Vauxhall

French auto giant PSA, maker of Citroen and Peugeot vehicles, on Thursday picked the group's sales and marketing boss Stephen Norman to run its troubled UK brand Vauxhall.

Norman will become managing director of Vauxhall Motors and Opel Ireland with effect from February 1, Vauxhall said in a statement just days after it axed 250 more at a car plant in northwestern England.

He will take over the reins from fellow British national Rory Harvey, who has decided to leave the business at the end of February, the company also announced, without giving a reason for the departure.

PSA chief executive Carlos Tavares has picked Norman to run the troubled division as the auto sector weathers ongoing economic uncertainty arising from looming Brexit.

The news comes just days after Vauxhall—bought last year by PSA—announced on Monday it would axe another 250 jobs on top of the 400 already planned at its Ellesmere Port .

The incoming Vauxhall boss has a long career in the car industry and held senior positions at French giant PSA since 2014, having previously worked for an array of automakers including Britain's Rover, Germany's Volkswagen, Italy's Fiat and France's Renault.

"I am beyond proud that I have been asked to take this responsibility," Norman told AFP in an interview following his appointment.

"My job is help stimulate demand for Vauxhall cars in Britain and Opel in Ireland. It is not possible to create jobs in the auto sector if we do not first stimulate and meet that demand."

PSA in August 2017 became Europe's second biggest carmaker after Volkswagen when it bought Vauxhall and German brand Opel from US giant General Motors.

The takeover however prompted concern about job losses in Britain, where Vauxhall directly employs about 5,000 people, most of them in two factories—in Ellesmere Port and in Luton, in the southeast of England.

Vauxhall, faced with challenging European market conditions and a declining passenger car market, is adjusting production volumes at its Ellesmere Port facility to meet current demand levels and improve its performance.

The carmaker has previously ruled out further investment in Britain until there is clarity on Brexit trade talks between Britain and the European Union.

Britain is scheduled to leave the bloc in March 2019.

© 2018 AFP

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