Nissan Australia has replaced sacked former Chief Executive, Richard Emery, with a new Managing Director, Stephen Lester.
Mr Emery was fired in late August following a poor sales performance that saw Nissan Australia’s market share fall by 12.3 per cent in the last financial year. Nissan’s local share of the car market dropped to 4.4 per cent in July, placing it behind Hyundai and Kia.
Renault Nissan Alliance chief, Carlos Ghosn, told reporters when he visited Australia in June that his group of companies would go “on the offensive”. Mr Ghosn said Nissan and Mitsubishi “could do much better”.
“I have a hard time understanding why Nissan cannot hold more than six per cent market share in Australia,” he said.
Mr Lester took up his new position on 4 September. He has been in the motor industry for 15 years, including the last two years as Managing Director of Infiniti in Canada. His previous experience includes regional management and brand marketing positions with BMW Group, including two years’ development with BMW AG in Munich, Germany, handling exhibitions, motor shows and the managing of international branding initiatives.
In Canada he was responsible for retailing operations, improving business performance and growing the Nissan luxury/performance arm’s 38 retail sites.
Regional Senior Vice President of Nissan Asia/Oceania, Yutaka Sanda, said Mr Lester’s arrival at Nissan Australia coincided with plans for the brand’s next direction.
“He brings to our Australian team strong experience, knowledge and business-building skills,” Mr Sanda said.
Nissan gave no reason for Mr Emery’s dismissal; however, he was known to be frustrated with the brand’s market share in Australia and was an outspoken critic of government’s lack of action regarding electric vehicle infrastructure.
Mr Emery was the driving force behind Nissan’s motorsport endeavours and was also heavily involved in Nissan’s successful Bathurst 12 Hour campaigns. His departure raises questions about whether the brand will continue to compete in Australia’s Supercars program. Nissan is contracted to participate in the 2018 season.
“Richard Emery has successfully guided our Australian operation with steady leadership and business improvements since 2014,” Mr Sanda said.
The day before his sacking Mr Emery spoke at the launch of the 370Z Nismo, saying the market should not expect a new Nissan mainstream passenger model for at least 18 months. Instead, the company will continue to rely on SUVs, light commercials and sports cars.