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Burke is proving a tough act to replace for Skoda

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Skoda is still looking for a replacement for Martin Burke five months after the fleet chief left to take up a new role as head of customer quality at Volkswagen Group UK.

The Czech manufacturer told Fleet News it is considering a wide range of potential candidates from “inside and outside” the industry.

However, it could not say when it would be in a position to announce a permanent replacement.

“We are going through a rigorous process to find the right replacement,” a spokesman said. “We’re looking for some-one who can take the great work that Martin and the fleet team have started and use that as a platform to increase our fleet presence and sales volumes in the future.”

But, while Skoda searches for a new fleet chief, other manufacturers have recognised the benefit of a seamless transition.

Jon Pollock’s promotion from corporate sales director to sales director at Nissan in April, for example, saw Barry Beeston immediately named as his successor.

And Kevin Griffin’s promotion to lead Ford’s commercial vehicles division in Europe at the end of 2012 resulted in Phil Hollins being named as his successor at the same time.

Under Burke’s tenure, Skoda increased fleet registrations from 8,500 in 2004 to 23,524 in 2012, equating to a record market share of 2.3%

It also achieved success at the Fleet News Awards, winning two ‘Most Improved Fleet Manufacturer of the Year’ trophies.

Andy Thomas, Skoda’s fleet sales development manager, who has been at the helm in the absence of a permanent fleet chief, has also overseen an increase in sales this year.

In the first four months of 2013, Skoda reported 8,342 fleet and business registrations, up 1.5% compared to the same period last year.

True fleet is up by almost 3% while daily rental volume fell by a quarter (after a big rise last year).

In March, Skoda unveiled the new Octavia and said it aims to double its sales to the corporate sector. Currently, 30% of Octavia sales – around 9,500 models – are to fleet. Skoda expects this to jump to 60%, or 19,000, within three to four years.

However, disappointing results for its Fit for Fleet programme have prompted Skoda to reinvent its ambitious plan aimed at boosting sales of company cars.

Skoda UK brand director Alasdair Stewart said the initiative, set up two years ago and based on 30 retail outlets singled out for their expertise in handling corporate business, was going back to the drawing board.


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