June 26, 2013 / 1:40 PM / in 5 years

GM names Opel strategy chief new Chevrolet Europe boss

FRANKFURT, June 26 (Reuters) - General Motors appointed Opel’s strategy chief Thomas Sedran to run the European operations of GM’s two global brands Chevrolet and Cadillac starting next month, Chevrolet said on Wednesday.

Sedran, a former auto industry consultant for AlixPartners who joined Opel in April last year, served as interim CEO for the loss-making European brand from last July until the arrival of Karl-Thomas Neumann in March.

He follows Chevy Europe head Susan Docherty, who never managed to increase sales of GM’s budget brand in Europe during her 18-month stint. She will be leaving GM in September.

Bringing Opel’s strategy chief to Chevrolet may help prevent any further cannibalisation of each other’s sales by more clearly delineating the two mass market brands.

Sedran said Chevrolet had one of the youngest model ranges after launching 15 new or upgraded models in the past three years including the Trax subcompact SUV, while Cadillac expected to attract new customers with cars such as the sporty ATS, which competes against the BMW 3 Series.

Chevy, which almost exclusively imports cars to Europe from GM’s South Korean unit, has lost ground to low-cost rivals Hyundai and Kia.

While Chevrolet’s market share in Europe dropped to 1.1 percent during the first five months of this year from the average 1.3 percent when Docherty took over at the start of 2012, Korean budget brands Hyundai and Kia grew theirs by roughly half a percentage point each to 3.5 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.

Cadillac sold less than 500 cars in western and central European last year out of the roughly 196,000 Cadillacs sold worldwide.

Separately, Opel said Tina Mueller, who recently ran Henkel’s Beauty Care cosmetics division for western Europe, would become chief marketing officer from Aug. 1.

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