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Group 1 Automotive appoints new CEO as Earl J Hesterberg retires

Earl J Hesterberg, Group 1 Automotive

Group 1 Automotive has appointed its current president of US operations Daryl Kenningham as its new chief executive after Earl J. Hesterberg announced his retirement after 17 years with the car retail group.

The board of the US-based, New York Stock Exchange-listed business, which operates as the AM100’s 11th-placed car retail business in the UK, praised Herterberg’s “integrity, transparency, professionalism, teamwork and respect” in a statement issued this week, adding that his successor was “a proven, strategic operating executive”.

Hesterberg will officially retire on December 31 with Kenningham taking up the role of president and chief operating officer and a member of the board of directors immediately and assuming the CEO title from January 1.

"On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Group 1 employees, we are deeply grateful for Earl's many years of exceptional leadership and strategic vision," said Steve Quinn, chairman of Group 1's board of directors. 

“As a highly respected international automotive executive, Earl utilized his relationships to expand the company's US operations and build a significant UK business, increasing aggregate company revenues threefold. 

“His passion for our core values – integrity, transparency, professionalism, teamwork and respect – promotes an invigorating workplace for our associates and drives our commitment to excellent customer service.”

Group 1’s senior leadership switch comes just over a month after it promoted its UK director of operations Mark Bridgland to the post of managing director – ending 22 months without an MD.

Commenting on the appointment of its incoming CEO, Quinn added: "The Board and I are delighted to announce Daryl as Group 1's next CEO. 

"Over the course of his career, Daryl has developed strong relationships with the automotive manufacturers. He is a proven, strategic operating executive with extensive automotive experience and a deep knowledge of Group 1.

“His business acumen and experience in the implementation of applied technology are what we need in this fast changing, dynamic marketplace.  He has placed great emphasis on all aspects of ESG, and in particular has become a champion in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion."

Last month Group 1 highlighted the strength of its new car order books in the UK after reporting a record Q2 performance.

The group delivered a 14.3% increase in revenues to $4.1 billion (£3.4bn) in Q2 as its gross profit rose by 18.3% to $768.4m (£636.4m) and diluted earnings per common share from continuing operations of $12.1 (£10) – the highest in its history.

Hesterberg said now was the “perfect time to transition to a new generation of leadership”, however. 

He said: “Daryl's performance throughout his career has been exemplary, and he has driven our US business to record levels. 

“Although I will sorely miss the wonderful people at Group 1, this transition will be seamless and our Company could not be in better hands."

Hesterberg has served as CEO and president of Group 1 since 2005 and previously served as group vice-president for marketing, sales, and service for Ford North America.

Prior to that held the same position for Ford of Europe, in Cologne, Germany.

He also served as President and CEO of Gulf States Toyota and held various senior sales, marketing, general management, and parts and service positions with Nissan in the US and Europe.


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