Tata Motors ropes in ex-Renault boss Thierry Bollore to steer JLR

The Tata group flagship has chosen the Frenchman over a few internal candidates who were also in the fray for the top job
After a search that spanned for almost six months, Tata Motors has appointed Thierry Bollore as the chief executive officer of Jaguar Land Rover. Bollore 57, who was Renault Group CEO till October 2019, will take the corner office on September 10. He takes over Ralf Speth who was at the helm for a decade. Speth will become non-executive vice chairman and remain on the board of Tata Sons.

The Tata group flagship has chosen the Frenchman over a few internal candidates who were also in the fray for the top job.  “I am delighted to welcome Thierry to Jaguar Land Rover. An established global business leader with a proven track record of implementing complex transformations, Thierry will bring a wealth of experience to one of the most revered positions in the industry,” N Chandrasekaran, chairman Tata Sons, said in a statement.   

Bollore is taking charge as auto demand remains under pressure after the initial easing of Covid-19 related shutdown measures weighed on economies around the world early this year.

Even before the pandemic hit, JLR was battling multiple headwinds-- a sales downturn, uncertainty surrounding Britain’s exit from the European Union, stricter emissions rules impacting its sport utility vehicles, and a dip in exports to China -- one of its biggest markets.

“The most important thing for JLR at this point is to get its cost act together. Therefore, the topmost priority of the new CEO should be to stay the course of cost reduction and drive the company towards free cash flow,” said Mahantesh Sabarad, head—retail research at SBICAP Securities.  

JLR has embarked on a cost-cutting drive aimed at saving 5 billion pounds ($6.4 billion) and reversing record losses.

Prior to joining Renault in 2012, Bollore had stints with Michelin Tyres and Faurecia, a global leader in automotive technology.  During this period, he gained extensive experience in conceptualizing and designing a customer focused product strategy, driving quality in program delivery, boosting excellence in operations.

A former No. 2 at Renault, Bollore rose to the top job after the arrest of Carlos Ghosn in 2018. He was ousted when tensions with partner Nissan Motor Co. came to a head last October. Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard said then that Bollore had to go to revive the relationship with its Japanese peer.

A strong track record of driving significant turnaround in complex operations in a global environment is expected to come handy for the role in JLR. Amid slowing global growth, increased regulatory changes and the pandemic JLR is executing a turnaround and transformation plan to deleverage the business and drive positive cash flows.

Tata Motors, which last year wrote down its investment in JLR, has had its credit rating put under review for downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service as the virus roils economies.


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