General Motors Co., the world’s largest automaker, named Alfred Rieck as sales chief of Opel as the company attempts to end losses in Europe, where auto demand is forecast to fall for the fifth straight year.
Rieck, who will be a member of Opel’s supervisory board, takes over his new position on July 1. He had been president of VW’s Skoda China, where he led the introduction of the brand in that market and held other VW management posts in Europe. He replaces Alain Visser, who is leaving the company, GM said.
Opel’s board met today, the company said in a statement. The board is working on a plan to return the European unit, including the Vauxhall brand in the U.K., to profitability. GM intends to make more cost cuts in the region after its last revamping effort failed to end deficits. GM Europe lost $747 million last year before taxes and interest.
“All parties around the table agree that Opel/Vauxhall needs to return to profitability and to take action to increase revenues, improve margins and reduce costs,” Opel’s statement said. “To that extent, the parties are committed to continue the dialogue with each other in order to identify the best possible strategy to improve the company’s financial performance.”
GM’s factories in Ellesmere Port, England, and Bochum, Germany, may be at risk to be closed, analysts, including Brian Johnson with Barclays Capital, have said.
Separately, IG Metall, the German-based union, has appointed United Auto Workers President Bob King one of its representative on the Opel supervisory board, the UAW said in an e-mail today. He joins the board June 1. The Detroit-based UAW represents production workers in GM’s U.S. plants.