Peugeot Maker Replaces Asia Chief After China Sales Slump

(Bloomberg) -- PSA Group is replacing its head of Asian operations as the maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars struggles to stem a sales slump in China.

Denis Martin, 61, who’s been managing the China and southeast Asia region since 2016, is leaving to pursue “personal projects,” and will be succeeded in the role by Carlos Gomes, who currently leads Latin America, the French carmaker said Wednesday in a statement.

“With the results obtained in Latin America in a difficult economic context, Carlos Gomes will be able to use his commercial expertise and managerial skills to give a new impetus to this region with strategic issues for the company,” PSA said. A spokesman declined to comment further.

The carmaker has been trying with little success to ditch its image as a budget brand with drab designs in China, the world’s largest auto market. The nation is a crucial counterweight for PSA, whose reliance on Europe pushed it to the brink of bankruptcy three years ago. That dependence deepened this year with the purchase of General Motors Co.’s operations on the continent.

PSA’s sales in China and southeast Asia dropped 37 percent in the year through November to 336,800 vehicles. Gomes, 53, who’s been head of Latin America since 2010, has previously worked for Fiat SpA and Renault SA.

Management Shuffle

Martin’s departure after just over a year in the job reflects PSA Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares’s tough management methods. The CEO turned around PSA with deep cutbacks in jobs and spending, a recipe that he’s now implementing at the recently acquired Opel and Vauxhall brands.

PSA shares rose 0.8 percent to 17.19 euros in Paris, bringing the gain this year to 11 percent and valuing the carmaker at 15.5 billion euros ($18.4 billion).

The change in leadership in Asia came as part of a broader shuffle. The head of strategy, Patrice Lucas, will take over Latin America, and be replaced in his current role by General Secretary Olivier Bourges. Gregoire Olivier, the mobility services chief who ran the Chinese operations until September 2016, will succeed Bourges. Brigitte Courtehoux will replace Olivier as head of mobility services, while Xavier Chereau, the head of human resources, will take on additional responsibilities related to the transformation of the company.

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