1: How long have you been in your new position and what is the greatest challenge being in charge of brands like Peugeot and Citroën locally?
I have been going for six months now. Both brands are small players in the market. What is challenging and exciting at the same time, is to grow the brand’s presence and showcase the exciting products.
I have personally taken on the challenge of establishing PSA Group as a strong player in the market. Of course, there are many things to attend to like total cost of ownership, customer service and parts supply. We are fast dealing with these issues, and I have a high level of confidence.
2: Do you think the COVID-19 pandemic could have a stronger negative affect on importers and smaller players in the market?
Yes and No. Yes, because when circumstances are uncertain, consumers tend to stick with traditional brands. No because as a small player, we have the opportunity to be more agile and react quicker to the changing environment. For our brands, we are optimistic about the way we will navigate our way out of COVID-19, and we are already seeing positive signs at PSA Group.
3: Out there, Peugeot and Citroën are seen as struggling brands, based on their monthly sales volumes over the last couple of years. Do you need a radical plan to turn that around?
Yes, absolutely and that is exactly what we have. Thus far we have launched Peugeot Pride and Citroën Serenity, which offer 5-years /100 000 km warranty and service plan giving peace of mind to our customers. Our first priority as part of this plan is to make sure our customers are completely comfortable with their purchases. We also launched five new models in the past eight months with plans to launch another four in the next eight. We have also started our network expansion, which will see it grow by 30% before the end of this year. We recently moved into our new Head Office (see separate story). These are just a few points of our radical turnaround plan.
4: Where is your focus going to be with the two French brands?
Apart from customer service, as I have mentioned already, we want to focus on the main growing segments with our strong offering in the B-Hatch, B-SUV and C-SUV segments. Another focus area is the comprehensive value proposition that our products represent, like the Citroën C5 Aircross Shine, which has a sunroof and dash cam as standard equipment, and the Peugeot 5008 GT Line for example comes equipped as standard with a seat massager.
5: How does the exchange rate affect your current business model?
It has a significant impact on our business. However, in order to be consistent and offer great value, we do not pass on the full impact to the consumer for now. We are absorbing this impact for as long as we can.
6: Any exiting news about the two brands from your side?
We are thrilled that the new Peugeot 208 was awarded ‘European Car of the Year 2020’, and next year we will have it alongside the 2017 European car of the year (Peugeot 3008) in our local showrooms. Additionally, Peugeot 2008 will be launched soon locally. The Peugeot Landtrek pickup will be coming next year.
7: Tell us something about your family life.
My family life is extremely important to me, which means I pay attention to work life balance. I am fortunate to have a partner who supports my career. My daughter will soon be graduating from film school, and I am looking forward to her fist production.
8: Any hobbies, sport?
I enjoy motorsport, more driving than watching. As a typical South African, I enjoy watching football and rugby.
A shortened autobiography of Leslie who took over form Xavier Gobille:
Despite the severe drought in large parts of the Karoo, the motor business in Graaff-Reinet is stepping up with more brands being represented in this part of the world.
If a pandemic and stock issues aren’t enough of a challenge, why not add a building project/dealership revamp/moving of facilities and getting a second dealership to full independent dealership status to a DP’s list of tasks.
Scott Auto Mazda in Bethlehem has a proud history that stretches back nearly 50 years, which makes them one of the best-known Mazda dealers in the Free State.