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MERCEDES-BENZ Australia/Pacific (MBAP) has announced its long-standing managing director and CEO, Horst von Sanden, will be stepping down from his role at the end of the year, to be replaced by German native Florian Seidler.

The retirement of Mr von Sanden at the end of the year will mark the end of a two-decade-long tenure with MBAP that first began in September 2000, when he moved from Germany to take up the role of general manager of marketing.

In July 2003, Mr von Sanden was promoted as managing director of Mercedes’ Antipodean operations, overseeing a period of growth for the brand that saw it establish itself as a leader in luxury-car sales.

By 2014, Mr von Sanden added the role of CEO to his resume, a title he has held ever since.

When Mr von Sanden was appointed managing director in 2003, Mercedes-Benz Cars sales in Australia totalled 15,191 units, a figure that more than doubled to 37,068 units by 2017 and remains an annual high-water mark for the brand Down Under.

Horst von Sanden

During that time, Mercedes became the best-selling brand among luxury marques, a title it has held in Australia since 2013 and New Zealand since 2015.

He also broadened his influence in the automotive industry in 2018, becoming the chairman of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), a role he held until earlier this year.

Mercedes-Benz Cars head of region overseas Matthias Luehrs said Mr von Sanden helped foster a positive workplace culture at MBAP to go with its sales growth.

“Horst von Sanden, together with his team, has been one of the driving forces behind the success story of Mercedes-Benz in Australia and New Zealand in recent years,” he said.

“His greatest passion has been building a team-oriented leadership culture and creating a great place to work. We would like to thank Horst for everything he has done for our company, for being an amazing team player and a great leader.”

Mr von Sanden will be succeeded by native German Florian Seidler, who is set to commence his tenure in 2021.

Florian Seidler

For the past three years, Mr Seidler has been based in Stuttgart, serving as head of sales and marketing for region overseas.

Prior to his current appointment, he headed up Mercedes-Benz’s operations in South Africa for a five-year stint from 2012 to 2017 and has been with Mercedes-Benz since 2006.

Mr Luehrs said Mr Seidler’s appointment was an exciting one for MBAP and the company at large.

“I am sure that thanks to his huge experience, Florian will contribute enormously to the further development of our company in Australia and New Zealand,” he said.

“I am convinced that he is the perfect person to strengthen the competitiveness and even more to be a benchmark for future sales and marketing in a rapidly digitising world.”

By Robbie Wallis

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