An international automotive executive with more than 35 years’ experience, Mr Winkler returned to Australia in 2017 to take on the fresh challenge offered to him by ZAG founder and managing director Bobby Zagame.
He had spent the previous two years as president and CEO of Bentley Motors Inc – the regional division of Bentley Motors in the Americas, based in Herndon, Virginia – where he oversaw the British luxury brand’s operations in North and South America.
Prior to that, Mr Winkler spent a little over a year as managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Australia and previously served for more than 18 years as head of Porsche Cars Australia, having moved Down Under after more than a decade with Porsche in the US and Germany in high-level positions relating to the North American market.
In a statement, Mr Winkler said his job assisting Mr Zagame “strengthen the foundations” of the growing prestige retail group – now representing 15 brands in Victoria and South Australia – was largely done.
“I’ve felt like a trusted member of the Zagame family from day one,” he said.
“Bobby asked me back in mid-2017 to come on as CEO and it’s been great to work in a business that employs over 400 people yet still has a prevailing feeling of ‘family’ to it.
“But I’m also the type of person that needs new challenges to keep myself stimulated and the time is right for me to move on.”
Mr Zagame said: “Michael has been instrumental in improving our business with his vast expertise at both corporate and retail level.
“Michael’s insights and actions have led to improvements in our processes, structure and overall culture – and for that I thank him.
“Our business has expanded rapidly over the last decade and Michael’s contribution has helped me put it on even more solid footing.”
A spokesperson told GoAuto there will be no replacement for Mr Winkler and no internal restructure undertaken as a result of his departure.
ZAG is the sole authorised dealer in both Victoria and South Australia for Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren, and the official national importer of Pagani.
In Victoria, it is also the exclusive dealer for Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Maserati, Caterham and Morgan, and an authorised dealer for Audi, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Abarth.
In South Australia, ZAG is the sole partner for Bentley and Lotus.
Zagame also operates a major repair and restoration facility at Westmeadows, next to Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport, handling OEM-standard bodywork for top-end brands such as those it represents at a retail level while also returning classic cars to showroom standard.
By Terry Martin