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FPV boss among casualties in ‘restructure’

Gone: FPV general manager Rod Barrett is among about a dozen staff members to have lost their job in the latest round of cutbacks at the local Ford special vehicles division.

FPV’s Barrett and others shown door as Prodrive-run Ford fast-car firm cuts back

1 Jun 2012

FORD Performance Vehicles (FPV) general manager Rod Barrett is among an undisclosed number of employees made redundant this week at the Blue Oval’s local high-performance vehicles division.

In another major restructure of the Melbourne-based business, which is a 51/49 per cent joint venture between Prodrive and Ford Australia, FPV has confirmed that Prodrive Asia-Pacific managing director Bryan Mears has taken on Mr Barrett’s responsibilities and that a number of other FPV back office functions are being “reallocated internally”.

GoAuto understands that around 12 FPV staff members have lost their job and there are unconfirmed reports that the company has been ordered to vacate its Campbellfield premises by the end of the year.

Neither Mr Mears nor Mr Barrett was available for comment, but in a statement Mr Mears, who now carries the title of Prodrive and FPV managing director, said: “This has been a very difficult business decision, and one we’ve taken with great regret.

“Unfortunately, today’s business realities are that we have to manage our business appropriately and that includes making the FPV business the right size for the market and taking advantage of better synergies with Ford and Prodrive.” Previously the commercial director of Prodrive/Ford’s racing arm Ford Performance Racing, Mr Barrett took the helm at FPV in August 2007, taking over from Mr Mears after a controversial restructure in January 2007 when former managing director Sak Ryopponen and a number of other senior managers were dismissed.

A former Saab Australia managing director, Mr Ryopponen had been in the job for only seven months, succeeding David Flint who retired in 2006 after almost 15 years as managing director of FPV/Tickford.

 center imageFrom top: Prodrive's Bryan Mears.

Mr Ryopponen was hired just before a major round of job cuts at FPV in which about a quarter of the company’s workforce – believed to be around 35 jobs – was shed.

Mr Barrett is an experienced sales and marketing executive and has worked for multinational companies across Australasia, the UK and throughout Asia, including 11 years with The Coca-Cola Company and two years with the Fosters Group.

In 2005, he was lured by Prodrive chairman and chief executive (and now also Aston Martin chairman) David Richards to head up the Ford Performance Racing V8 Supercar team, and is credited as a key architect of the race team’s commercial and on-track success in 2005 and 2006.

Although the FPV role was his first in general motoring, the Tasmanian-born Mr Barrett has a strong automotive pedigree and competed in a host of circuit racing championships in Australia and Britain between 1979 and 1992.

At FPV he presided over a number of key programs, including the FG and FGII Falcon-based series, limited-edition models such as the 2007 Cobra GT and 2011 GT Black, and the acclaimed supercharged Boss V8 engine range.

Mr Barrett also oversaw the rise and fall of the high-performance brand’s first SUV – the Territory-based F6X, which was discontinued early in 2009 after a year of slow sales.

“Rod leaves with our gratitude for a job well done and our best wishes for the future, and we will be supporting him in every way we can – as we will everyone affected by this decision,” Mr Mears said this week.

The newly appointed FPV chief, whom a spokesperson confirmed is not looking for a replacement for Mr Barrett, also put a positive spin on the cuts, saying: “The good news is that FPV is set for stronger sales this year than last, and we have some very exciting new product to talk about later in the year.” FPV has refused to provide GoAuto with further details or specific sales figures on its performance year to date.

Mr Mears has more than three decades’ experience in business administration, manufacturing and marketing.

He joined Proton Asia-Pacific in 2005 from Silcar, a joint venture between communications giant Siemens and construction firm Thiess, where he was general manager of the power and industry operating division.

He has also held senior marketing and operational positions with South Pacific Tyres.

At Proton, Mr Mears was charged with driving the strategic development and expansion of the company’s operations within the region.

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