Personnel Articles

THE man whose loyalty to former Renault-Nissan Alliance boss Carlos Ghosn allegedly led to his own downfall as head of Renault, Thierry Bollore, is returning to the top of the industry as chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).

Officially starting at JLR on September 10, Mr Bollore left Renault suddenly in October last year in a move that was widely seen as part of a concerted effort by the French manufacturer to cut ties with close allies of Mr Ghosn, who had been arrested in Japan for alleged financial misconduct.

Mr Bollore, 57, joins the British auto giant at a time when vehicle sales are waning and as its production plants in the UK and elsewhere are ramping back up after temporary closures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

He replaces Ralf Speth, who has been CEO for a decade and will now become non-executive vice-chairman.

In announcing the move, chairman of JLR’s parent company, Tata, Natarajan Chandrasekaran, said Mr Bollore was “an established global business leader with a proven track record of implementing complex transformations … (who) will bring a wealth of experience to one of the most revered positions in the industry”.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Bollore said: “Jaguar Land Rover is known around the world for its peerless brand heritage, exquisite design and deep engineering integrity. It will be my privilege to lead this fantastic company through what continues to be the most testing time of our generation.

“Renowned for their passion and spirit, the people of Jaguar Land Rover are the driving force behind its success. I couldn’t be more excited to join the team continuing to shape the future of this iconic company.”

Mr Bollore joined Michelin in 1990 as shop manager in a heavy truck tyre factory before rising three years later to chief of process and quality for all heavy truck factories worldwide.

He worked with Michelin in Japan and Thailand before becoming vice-president of the global aircraft business in 2002.

He left Michelin in 2005 and joined automotive parts-maker Faurecia, becoming vice-president worldwide in charge of industry, quality and purchasing.

He joined Renault in September 2012 and was soon promoted to Renault’s executive vice-president for manufacturing and supply chain.

In 2013, Mr Bollore was appointed chief competitive officer, rising to chief operating officer (and 2IC to Mr Ghosn) in February 2018. He was promoted to deputy CEO in November 2018 after Mr Ghosn was arrested, and was then appointed CEO in January 2019 – a position he only held for nine months.

Mr Bollore takes over at a time when JLR is struggling with financial difficulties and flagging Jaguar sales, but is enjoying strong demand for Land Rover models.

JLR posted a $US543 million ($A757 million) loss for the financial year ending March 31, 2020. It began its recovery plan, including a $US700 million ($A976 million) credit facility from Chinese lenders, when COVID-19 hit.

JLR sold 140,593 Jaguars in the last financial year (down 22 per cent) and 368,066 Land Rovers (down eight per cent).

By Neil Dowling

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