Personnel Articles

COX Automotive Australia and New Zealand has appointed a new CEO following the announcement of the semi-retirement of the present CEO, Rob Whiten.

Moving into the role is UK-based senior Inchcape leader David Colwell who will take the reins from November 30. He is an Australian citizen who has recently returned home after spending the past 12 years working abroad in Asia, Europe and the UK.

Mr Colwell was most recently global business development director of Inchcape plc, where he was based in their London head office.

His extensive career at Inchcape has included a number of senior roles, including the position of managing director of Inchcape’s Northern Europe region for seven years, in which he led a business which operates across five countries, with nine brands and 1,000 team members.

The move followed Mr Whiten announcing his decision to retire from working in a full-time executive capacity in March 2021. Cox Automotive has recently been conducting a comprehensive international recruitment process to find a suitably qualified replacement.

Mr Whiten took over the role of CEO at Cox Automotive Australia and New Zealand in 2017 just after the inclusion of the CarsGuide online classified business which involved a 30 per cent ownership of the Cox business by car retailers through DealerMotive; an arrangement that was recently dissolved with the sale of CarsGuide and Autotrader to eBay.

The company said in a statement that Mr Whiten would remain in the business until March next year and work closely with Martin Forbes, president of Cox Automotive International and Mr Colwell to ensure a “comprehensive handover and smooth transition, both internally and for our customers and stakeholders”.

Mr Forbes said in a statement that Mr Colwell had represented “many leading automotive brands on behalf of Inchcape and is highly credentialed”.

David Colwell

“He joins the company with extensive experience within import and distribution, retail dealerships and financial services. As a proven executive leader, his global experience within the automotive sector will stand him in great stead to lead the Australian and New Zealand operations through their next chapter of growth and success,” he said.

“I am confident that with David’s general management, finance and business development leadership experience, as well as his success in developing and growing diverse businesses in multiple markets, will see him make an immediate impact on the business and become a valuable member of the International Operating Board.”

Mr Colwell is a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

He said in a statement: “I am very honoured and excited to be joining the Cox Automotive family. I have been impressed with the organisation, their innovative nature, compelling product portfolio and desire to be at the forefront of change in the automotive industry.

“Providing customers with the highest levels of service, combined with the strength of Cox, is an attractive proposition to make a real difference in a changing landscape.

“The way consumers interact with brands is rapidly changing and they expect all their experiences to be individualised, seamless and available at their convenience. With Cox Automotive, I believe we are best placed to provide the tools and services the automotive industry needs to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.

“I am passionate about the automotive industry providing customers with digitally enabled experiences, which are tailored to their needs and expectations. 2020 has been an extremely difficult year but one of the key learnings is that we need to accelerate the implementation of technology and digital solutions to ensure our industry can provide an efficient route to market, irrespective of the macro environment.”

Mr Martin said: “I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Rob for his significant contribution to the success of Cox Automotive in Australia and New Zealand under his leadership. The company has gone from strength to strength. He has overseen the growth, development and integration of the Cox brands in Australia and leaves the company in a much stronger position than when he joined.”

By John Mellor

Manheim
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