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AUDI Australia has made some important changes to its senior ranks under managing director Paul Sansom that see Nikki Warburton expand her responsibilities as chief customer and marketing officer and Steve Cloete stepping up to the newly created position of director of sales and network development.

Previously chief marketing officer, Ms Warburton now oversees a broad range of departments including product planning, customer experience and digital innovation, marketing communications, corporate communications and experiential marketing.

Other senior figures such as product planning director Shawn Ticehurst and customer experience and digital innovation director Joshua Wood remain in their positions, now reporting to Ms Warburton.

Mr Cloete takes over the sales function from Grant Barling (who has left the company) while also adding network development which was previously the responsibility of business development director Thierry Juilland, who remains in this key role but now reports to Mr Cloete.

Ben Tillott, who is head of strategy and special projects, also now comes under the remit of Mr Cloete.

Steve Cloete

Mr Cloete spent the past three-and-a-half years as dealer principal of the German prestige car-maker’s flagship retailer, Audi Centre Sydney, which is the sole factory-run Audi dealership in Australia and earlier this year picked up the 2018 Major Metropolitan Dealer of the Year award.

He has extensive experience across both automotive OEM and retail sectors in Australia and his native South Africa, where he held senior positions with prominent dealer groups including Unitrans Automotive and Imperial Auto, and with Hyundai Motor.

The latest moves follow the recent appointment of Dutchman Wout Van Parys as chief financial officer, replacing Thomas Kressert who returned to a new role at Audi AG.

Mr Van Parys has worked for Audi for some 17 years, most recently as head of sales controlling Germany.

Experienced human resources executive Sophia Bernard also joined the company earlier this year in the role of chief people officer. She replaced Zena Boakes.

Nikki Warburton

In announcing the new management structure, Mr Sansom said: “This realignment focuses our efforts on the people who rightfully deserve it – our customers.

“This recent reorganisation is an evolution of everything we’ve learned over the last few years and aligns our team toward our common goal: exceptional customer experiences.

“Audi Australia are in excellent shape to take advantage of the incredible wave of new products we have arriving here in the next 12-18 months. We are very confident that the next phase of growth for Audi starts now – and we can’t wait to bring our customers along for the ride.”

Ms Warburton said she was “thrilled” to take on the broader responsibility.

“I feel very energised by this incredible opportunity to drive our customer-centric agenda within our business,” she said.

“The new team brings together so many elements including the way we talk to customers, the way we interact with them and the way we offer them the very best products in the premium automotive market. The potential is very exciting.”

By Terry Martin

Dealer Solutions