AM Online

Chinese deal for Rose?

Kevin Rose, who has overseen spectacular 85% growth in Audi’s UK sales volume and consolidated the brand’s premium status since becoming director in 1999, is being courted about taking a senior role within the company’s rapidly expanding Chinese operation.

Rose, 48, a veteran of 26 years with the Volkswagen Group, recently returned from a visit to China, where he advised on the development of Audi’s sales and service network.

It followed his management team’s detailed briefing to Chinese Audi executives, who visited the UK HQ in Milton Keynes earlier this year on a fact-finding mission.

Rose, formerly the director of Seat UK, has been instrumental in developing what the parent company considers to be a showcase sales and marketing operation. During his tenure as director, Audi’s UK sales have climbed from 40,615 in 2000 to an expected 75,000 units this year.

Equally significantly, the UK network has grown to 130 increasingly upmarket outlets while retail partners will have fallen by the middle of next year from 90 to around 40 over a 12-month period.

Audi has 98 “exclusive” outlets across 59 Chinese cities and towns. Ironically, China could soon overtake the UK as the brand’s top non-German market with Audi sales having trebled there over the past four years, to 63,000 cars in 2003.

While Rose is fervent about challenging BMW for sales, service, brand perception and customer satisfaction leadership in the UK, in China Audi outsells BMW and Mercedes with a 65% premium sector share and 2.8% of the overall market.

Audi has an 80,000-unit production capacity for A6s and A4s at its Changchun factory in north-eastern China. A8s provide official government limousine transport.

Rose was on holiday and unavailable for comment, but a European Audi source says: “Kevin’s experience has not gone unnoticed in Ingolstadt. A move like that is a distinct likelihood.”

At the recent Paris motor show, Rose was seen in prolonged conversation with the influential Dr Georg Flandorfer, recently appointed global head of sales and marketing for Volkswagen, who formerly held the same title at Audi.

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