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Incoming Vauxhall managing director targets 'dramatic' improvements

Stephen Norman, managing director of Vauxhall Motors and Opel Ireland

Vauxhall’s incoming managing director Stephen Norman has spoken for the first time of his aim to “dramatically improve the commercial fortunes of the brand”.

The PSA Group’s current head of sales and marketing will take over from outgoing managing director, Rory Harvey, at the end of February and was questioned about the future of the brand and its UK production facility at Ellesmere Port in an interview with the Financial Times.

The manufacturer announced this week that it was looking to make a further 250 redundancies at the plant – which currently produces the Astra hatchback range – on top of a reduction in headcount of 400 made last year.

Norman told the FT that the plant’s fortunes were “inextricably linked", with the future of the plant dependent on the strength of the Vauxhall brand’s sales in its home territory.

Speaking to the newspaper, Norman said: “If we can make Vauxhall into a profitable and growing brand on the demand side, the supply side will follow.”

Vauxhall’s slipped to third place among the UK’s biggest selling car manufacturers, during 2017, a 22% decline in sales, to 195,137 vehicles, allowing Volkswagen to take second place, behind Ford.

Norman insisted, however, that the brand still has “a lot of potential that can be unleashed”, adding: “My brief is to dramatically improve the commercial fortunes of the brand”.

The PSA Group faces the challenge of making Vauxhall and sister brand Opel profitable for the first time in almost a decade, following its acquisition from General Motors last year.

The two brands’ new leadership team, headed by new chief executive Michael Lohscheller, has set a target of achieving €1.1bn worth of savings by 2020.

It has stated that the efficiencies can be achieved without resorting to the closure of any of its manufacturing sites.

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