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Another top Mitsubishi executive leaves

Love that slogan: Among the many roles Paul Unerkov undertook at Mitsubishi over more than two decades, he was the driving force behind the successful ‘Love that car’ campaign.

Paul Unerkov exits after 23 years as Mitsubishi puts in place four new directors


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13 Jun 2013

MITSUBISHI Motors Australia Limited’s vice-president of customer and brand management, Paul Unerkov, has become the latest highly experienced executive to leave the company.

Mr Unerkov, who served MMAL for 23 years and held key positions in areas such as advertising, product planning, national sales and marketing, is the third two-decade-plus veteran to depart in the past seven months as the Japanese brand has restructured its Australian operations.

Soon after Mitsubishi closed its Australian car manufacturing operations in March 2008, becoming a full-import brand, Mr Unerkov was made a vice-president of the company, having previously overseen all brand and product marketing which included the successful ‘Love that car’ campaign.

Like former vice-president of sales Anthony Casey and vice-president of corporate strategy and parts and accessories Paul Stevenson, Mr Unerkov has not been directly replaced.

Instead, Mitsubishi said in a statement this week that it had completed the formation of a new corporate structure, with four newly appointed directors now covering sales, aftersales, marketing and corporate services.

All report to MMAL president and CEO Mutsuhiro Oshikiri, who joined the company in 2012 and made his intentions clear from the outset with the declaration: “We have to change the company or we will not survive.”

Former NSW regional manager Greg Cook has stepped up as sales director, with former Queensland regional manager John Bussell supporting him in the role of deputy director of field operations.

General manager of product and market planning Tony Principe is now director of marketing, a position that also makes him responsible for network development, product planning, sales planning, advertising and corporate communications.

Aftersales, corporate quality assurance, customer care, and parts and accessories (sales and engineering) are now controlled by aftersales director Masayoshi Miyatake.

The corporate services division is jointly led by newly appointed director Michihiro Toyomizu and 21-year MMAL veteran Lindsay Stark, who continues as a director and chief financial officer – and is now the only Australian on the company’s board, which also includes Mr Oshikiri and four Mitsubishi Motors Corporation executives.

Mr Stark and Toyomizu-san are both responsible for human resources, information services, financial management and corporate planning.

As previously reported, MMAL under Mr Oshikiri has targeted an increase in market share from 6.0 per cent to 8.0 per cent, with part of the strategy to shift more sales and marketing responsibility from its headquarters in Adelaide to other state centres.

Oshikiri-san also made it clear to GoAuto at the Sydney motor show last October that he was determined to achieve the goals set down by MMC president Osamu Masuko, who told us he believed Australia could generate 100,000 sales a year.

VFACTS figures show that to the end of May, Mitsubishi sales are up 13.9 per cent year to date with just over 28,000 sales, which puts it on course for around 70,000 sales come December 31. It currently holds a 6.2 per cent market share, up from 5.7 per cent at the same point last year.

Mr Unerkov told GoAuto in January that the “timing was right” for senior executives such as Mr Casey and Mr Stevenson to “go and do something else”.

“We’ve had a pretty tough time when you look at it,” he said.

“When Oshikiri-san first came to Australia, he said he wanted to empower the regions a little bit more. So we are putting people in, and advertising for technical people, service-related people, and that sort of thing.

“We’re bolstering our regions a little bit more, but that’s also to work with the dealers to ensure they’re maximising their sales and looking after their customers.

“From head office, we’re trying to cut some of the bureaucracy to get things done quicker, to get things resolved earlier in the process. That’s all that’s really happened.

“We’re looking at it to maximise our sales, to maximise our profit, and to maximise our dealer sales … refining how we do things.

“We were a manufacturer for a long time, so it will take a little bit of time.”

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