Holden has announced Dave Buttner has stepped down as chairman and managing director for personal reasons.
A former Toyota boss, Mr Buttner came out of retirement to turn around Holden’s fortunes. He held the top job at the lion brand for only 16 months.
During his short stint, Buttner was unable to cauterise Holden’s sales decline. With the overall market dropping 8.0 per cent in 2019, Holden has recorded a 26.6 per cent slide. The brand is now struggling to hold on to a position in the top ten.
The leader of Holden’s commercial operations, Kristian Aquilina, has been appointed interim chairman and managing director.
In a statement, Buttner paid tribute to his team and dealer partners for the work undertaken to transition Holden to an SUV and ute brand.
“Holden’s focus remains on getting onto the consideration list for SUV and LCV buyers in Australia and New Zealand,” said Buttner.
“We have made significant progress in getting the fundamentals right. Now is the right time for me to depart the business, with a strong team in place, to be led by Kristian.”
Senior vice president, GM international operations, Julian Blissett said: “With critical groundwork underway, the company will implement an orderly leadership succession.”
Blissett thanked Buttner for his leadership of Holden saying, “Dave’s experience and professionalism have been significant assets for Holden since his appointment in 2018.”
“Not only has he led critical work, he has developed a highly credentialled leadership team, enabling an orderly transition.”
Aquilina said the business priorities led by Buttner would remain his key focus.
“Under Dave’s leadership, we have laid out clear priorities for the business. While much progress has been made, there is still a lot of work to do,” said Aquilina.
“My focus is on providing continuity around the execution of our plans, ensuring the team at Holden, including dealers and partners, continue to focus on our customers.”
The new boss will certainly be working hard, Holden has religated itself to ‘challenger brand’ status and its leadership team is finding it difficult to differentiate the marque in a crowded marketplace.
Correcting Holden’s trajectory requires the type of creative thinking the brand is no longer known for.
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