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Parfitt new Vauxhall MD

Vauxhall dealers are welcoming the promotion of Bill Parfitt following the departure from Luton headquarters of Kevin Wale, the manufacturer’s former chairman and managing director, who this week took control of the GM China Group.

General Motors has split Wale’s role, with Parfitt appointed Vauxhall managing director and taking responsibility for day-to-day operations. He remains in charge of Saab, Vauxhall and Chevrolet sales and marketing in the UK and Ireland, and is still European sales boss of fleet and commercial vehicle sales.

Ken Surgenor, chief executive of Lookers Group, which has 16 Vauxhall dealerships, says: “I rate Bill Parfitt highly, and he is now in a stronger position to make his views known about Vauxhall within GM. I am sure the whole Vauxhall retail network will welcome his appointment.”

Jonathan Browning, Vauxhall’s new chairman, will “provide strategic oversight and is ultimately responsible for the corporate governance of Vauxhall”, says GM. Browning is also sales, marketing and aftersales vice-president for General Motors Europe.

In another move, GM vice- president Jamal El-Hout added commercial vehicle operations to his car product planning responsibilities (it was previously one of Wale’s roles).

The management changes were announced shortly after SMMT car registration figures revealed that Vauxhall moved ahead of Ford in April, with 26,723. Vauxhall’s 14.9% market share compared with Ford’s 13.8%. Year-to-date registrations are up by 0.74% in a market down 6%.

Colin Hainstock, managing director at Nidd Vale in Harrogate, claims much of this growth has been profitable incremental sales. “Vauxhall has sold 530 Astra Sporthatch and 480 Tigras and they aren’t demo cars – it’s all incremental business, and it’s retail as well.

“The company is now well placed to challenge Ford as market leaders on a month by month basis,” he says.

And Surgenor adds: “Vauxhall’s new models make it an attractive franchise and we have seen the retail content grow. In the Birmingham market area we took over three years ago, it has gone from 4% to 7%.

“Vauxhall is no longer simply a fleet brand, which means Lookers and other Vauxhall retailers are making higher profits from it. Retail sales continue to grow, and we detect a new determination in GM European management to push ahead across all the brands.”

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