Nissan SA appoints new MD

Polish-born Maciej Klenkiewicz, who was managing director for RBU Central Eastern Europe (CEE) and whose scope of responsibility was expanded in April this year to also include Independent Markets Africa, has been appointed managing director of Nissan South Africa and Independent Markets.

NSA Business Update EOSR0939

Klenkiewicz has replaced Nissan SA country director Kabelo Rabotho, who will be leaving the company at the end of this month.

Rabotho, who has been Nissan SA country director since December 2020, said he has decided to take a sabbatical and has been working together with Klenkiewicz for the past two months.

One of Klenkiewicz’s first priorities will be to manage the “downsizing” of Nissan SA’s headcount.

This follows Nissan SA’s recent announcement that about 400 of its employees will be affected by this plan because of the group’s inability to secure a replacement model for its NP200 half ton bakkie for production at its Rosslyn plant.

Nissan SA’s Rosslyn plant will stop production of the NP200 in March 2024 at the end of the model’s extended life cycle, which means the plant will then only be producing the Navara.

The NP200 model has been produced by Nissan’s Rosslyn plant for the past 16 years.

Nissan SA previously said the immediate replacement model for the NP200 was planned to be built on a Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi alliance shared platform in Russia, but the geopolitical situation in Russia has meant that this model was no longer viable owing to significantly reduced volumes.

Klenkiewicz said this plan has now been completely scrapped and that they are now looking at the entire portfolio of Nissan’s global production to try and find the best model for the South African and African market that can also be produced in the Rosslyn plant.

“Normally development of a new product for the plant takes several years but we are taking this very seriously and we are trying to advance it as much as we can.

“This project is ongoing, and I believe we will find a solution soon,” he said.

Rabotho said Nissan South Africa has embarked on a Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act to reduce the company’s head count and is now in the consultation process.

A Section 189 process permits employers to retrench employees for operational requirements.

Rabotho said Nissan SA estimates that about 400 employees will be affected by the process but “that is part of the discussions and engagements with staff”.

He indicated that fewer employees would possibly be affected and that Nissan SA would embark on a number of activities to reskill affected employees.

Klenkiewicz said Nissan SA was adjusting the size of the business to ensure the company remained competitive and sustainable into the future.

“We are planning to stay here and invest more and see our future in South Africa,” he said.

Klenkiewicz said it was key for the Nissan SA business to increase its domestic production volumes.

He said Nissan SA was investing in the Navara as a product to enhance its portfolio of Navara models, which will also impact positively on both its domestic and export sales.

Klenkiewicz said Nissan SA was looking for new destinations for its products in line with the goal for the Rosslyn plant to be operating at full capacity.

He said Nissan was “growing right now in Africa” but indicated that this expansion was focused on countries in the north of the continent, including Morocco, Algeria and Libya.

Klenkiewicz said Nissan has re-established its business in Algeria and recently appointed a distributor for Libya as part of its drive to expand its independent markets in Africa and grow sales of its models.

“Navara is our super star, hence our directions to extend our business to Libya.

“We are opening in Algeria next year with the distribution agreement we just signed… and then we will be looking at all other opportunities within the Africa regional market in terms of destinations,” he said.

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