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Jean-Marc Gales Takes the Reins as Lotus' CEO; Can He Save the Brand?

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Lotus has been struggling not to go under for quite a few years now, but the U.K .-based sports car manufacturer - currently owned by Proton - could be off to a fresh start with a new CEO in charge.

As of this month, Group Lotus will be led by Jean-Marc Gales, the former CEO of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers and former president of Citroen and Peugeot , Malaysia’s Proton — parent company of Lotus — revealed today.

Responsible for implementing a brand-new strategy and restructuring Citroen’s sales value chain with the brand-new DS line, the 51-year old is expected to "drive the Lotus transformation plan and further enhance Lotus’ business and capabilities."

Gales, also employed by companies such as Daimler, General Motors and Volkswagen in the past, will be replacing Aslam Farikullah, who will remain a Member of the Board of Lotus Cars.

Specific details about the company’s immediate plans under Gales haven’t been disclosed, but the Luxembourgian is likely to come up with a new game plan by the end of the year and decide whether or not Lotus should go ahead with reviving the much-rumored Esprit.

Click past the jump to read about the Lotus’s recent woes

Why it Matters

Lotus is in dire need of a new brand strategy, as well as a couple of new models to replace the aging Elise and Exige . Gales’ success with Citroen is encouraging on paper, but the two companies are playing in different fields and are facing distinct issues.

With Lotus’ net losses at more than $250 million last year, Gales is already under pressure and needs to act fast to improve sales and cut debt to a minimum. He needs plenty of brilliant ideas to become a hero, but it takes just one mistake to bury Lotus once and for all.

The Woes of Lotus

More Woes for Suspended Lotus Boss, Dany Bahar

The Brits finished last year with a £167.8 million ($283 million) net loss as global sales dropped by 40 percent to roughly 1,180 units. That’s a long way off the company’s goal to deliver more than 4,000 examples a year by 2015. With that plan down the drain, Lotus isn’t likely to sell more than 4,000 vehicles over the next couple of years, so it’s back to the drawing board.

Financial troubles aside, Lotus lacks a proper vehicle lineup, with its most recent brand-new model, the Evora , being four years old. An updated Exige was indeed introduced in 2012, but the overall design still goes back to the Series 1 model, which was launched in 2000. Moving over to the Elise, a third-gen model has yet to arrive, although a concept car was shown in 2010. A facelifted Elise is on sale since 2011.

Press Release

PROTON APPOINTS NEW LOTUS CEO

Jean-Marc Gales Takes the Reins as Lotus' CEO; Can He Save the Brand?

02/05/14 from Lotus Print this page Add this release to Your Downloads
PROTON Holdings Berhad (“PROTON”) today announced the appointment of Jean-Marc Gales as the new Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus plc, effective 1 May 2014. Lotus is a wholly owned subsidiary of PROTON and a member of the DRB-HICOM Group.

Gales, a Luxembourgian, holds a MSc in Management from London’s Imperial College, and a MSc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Karlsruhe in Germany.

A known industry player, Gales has held several significant positions with numerous global automotive manufacturers. Prior to his new appointment at Lotus, Gales was Chief Executive Officer of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (“CLEPA”) since 2012, where he played a key role in turning around the association through various strategic initiatives, including streamlining the working processes and increasing corporate members from 82 to 112. Gales also established a lobbying strategy with the European Parliament and European Commission, and helped define the Industry Research & Innovation Strategy and Roadmap for 2025.

Before joining CLEPA, Gales was the President of Automobiles Citroen and Automobiles Peugeot between 2009 and 2012, where he restructured the entire sales value chain and implemented a new brand strategy for the DS Line and introduced the Citroen DS in major markets around the world. During his tenure there, the Company delivered record retail sales in 2009 and 2010.

Gales’ other previous appointments include several senior positions in Daimler AG, General Motors and Volkswagen AG.

Aslam Farikullah, current Chief Operating Officer of Group Lotus plc, remains as Member of the Board of Lotus Cars Limited and will continue to contribute to the growth of the business in the future.

PROTON Chief Executive Officer, Dato’ Abdul Harith Abdullah is pleased to welcome Gales to the Group. "This is an exciting time for Lotus, and Jean-Marc’s appointment could not have come at a more appropriate time, especially taking into account our plans for Lotus. We believe that with his strong technical and managerial expertise and leadership, Jean-Marc will be able to drive the Lotus transformation plan and further enhance Lotus’ business and capabilities.”

Jean-Marc Gales is married and has one daughter.




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