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Opportunity knocks: Marc Ebolo said he sees the opportunity for Holden to grow, both as a business and a brand, in New Zealand, where the company is facing its first annual sales downturn in many years.

GM HOLDEN has promoted Marc Ebolo to managing director of Holden New Zealand, replacing Kristian Aquilina who was appointed marketing director for both the Australian and New Zealand markets in April.

Mr Aquilina was continuing to lead the New Zealand operations until a successor was found, and Mr Ebolo will now relocate from Melbourne to Auckland and relinquish his current duties as general manager of revenue strategies.

A mechanical engineer with extensive experience across various business disciplines, Mr Ebolo has moved through the ranks of General Motors in the region, joining GMH in 2001 from Ford Australia – where he worked as a manufacturing engineer – and initially serving as program quality manager for three years.

He subsequently moved into a senior product planning role with General Motors and, in 2008, was appointed marketing product manager for Holden.

After another three-year stint, Mr Ebolo became a district sales manager, still based in Victoria, before moving to a new role of forecasting manager in 2014.

In September 2015, Mr Ebolo was posted to GM’s office in Kuala Lumpur, where he managed the US auto giant’s regional operations across Malaysia, Brunei and Fiji.

He was in this position for almost two years, returning to Melbourne in June last year to take on the revenue strategies role.

In announcing the appointment, GM Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard pointed to Mr Ebolo’s experience across sales, marketing and distribution areas of the business – both in Australia and regionally – and is clearly counting on him to maintain sales momentum in the New Zealand market.

The lion brand has had a long run of successive annual sales growth in New Zealand, up from just over 8000 units in 2011, for example, to 14,411 last year (up 0.5 per cent on 2016).

It has consistently held a market share of around nine to 10 per cent, and third position behind Toyota and Ford.

That said, Holden’s sales in New Zealand have slowed this year and the brand finds itself down 10.9 per cent to the end of May (on 5140 units).

“Holden’s New Zealand operations has experienced great success in the past few years and Marc’s appointment will continue to build momentum for the Holden brand and sales in New Zealand,” Mr Bernhard said.

“Marc’s experience executing sales strategies and his knowledge across Holden’s distribution, sales and marketing functions, in addition to his regional experience makes him an exceptional choice to lead the New Zealand team, and to work with our Holden and Isuzu Trucks dealer network to achieve further success.”

Mr Ebolo said: “As a business and as a brand, we have the opportunity to grow in New Zealand.

“I’m excited to showcase our range – the best we’ve ever had – and continue to grow sales, particularly in the key SUV, LCV and passenger segments.”

Holden New Zealand’s downturn this year is not running as deep as the lion brand’s sales performance in Australia, where new registrations have fallen 23.2 per cent (with 25,229 units) to the end of May as the company struggles to find traction in the marketplace after closing its manufacturing operations late last year.

The strong sales performance across the Tasman in recent years has been attributed in large part to Mr Aquilina’s leadership, which prompted his return as marketing chief for both markets.

As previously reported, Mr Aquilina replaced Mark Harland, who was in the job for 16 months.

Holden New Zealand’s general manager of marketing Marnie Samphier has also relocated to Melbourne, working under Mr Aquilina as general manager of marketing strategy for both markets.

By Terry Martin