GM’s Opel Names Mueller of Henkel to Oversee Marketing

General Motor Co.’s Opel division appointed Tina Mueller, a former executive at German soapmaker Henkel AG, to run the auto brand’s marketing as the European carmaker works to sustain sales amid shrinking demand.

Mueller, 44, will take the new post of chief marketing officer on Aug. 1, Ruesselsheim, Germany-based Opel said in a statement today. Duncan Aldred, who replaced Alfred Rieck as head of sales and marketing on an interim basis in January, will retain responsibility for sales and keep his post as head of Vauxhall, Opel’s sister brand in the U.K., it said.

General Motors is working to turn around its European operations, which have accumulated more than $18 billion in losses since 1999, and has a target for the business to break even by 2015. The Detroit-based company has laid out plans to invest $4 billion through 2016 to develop 23 vehicles and 13 engines. New models introduced in the last year include the Adam small car and Mokka sport-utility vehicle.

“With her valuable experience in the brand-driven consumer goods industry, Tina Mueller will have a major impact on the Opel brand,” Chief Executive Officer Karl-Thomas Neumann said in the statement.

Thomas Sedran, who has been Opel’s strategy chief since April 2012, will move from the division on July 1 to become head of European operations for GM’s Chevrolet brand, the carmaker also said. He succeeds Susan Docherty, who is leaving GM.

Mueller’s previous work has included managing the Schwarzkopf hair-care, Diadermine skin-care and Theramed dental brands at Dusseldorf, Germany-based Henkel, as well as stints at European cosmetics producers Wella AG and L’Oreal SA.

Opel has a goal of maintaining market share in Europe this year amid a sixth consecutive industrywide contraction. Combined Opel and Vauxhall five-month new registrations in Europe fell 6.3 percent from a year earlier, less than the market’s decline of 6.8 percent, and their share of sales was stable at 6.7 percent, according to the Brussels-based ACEA trade group.

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