The Outsider: New Global BMW Sales Boss Pieter Nota Comes From Royal Philips, Beiersdorf, Unilever
After a near decade-long run at the helm of BMW Group’s sales and marketing department, Ian Robertson is retiring.
Taking over from the Englishman Robertson will be Pieter Nota, a Netherlands native who is anything but representative of the BMW establishment, every inch not automotive industry insider. Nota comes from Royal Philips, where you buy your electric razors, and formerly worked at Beiersdorf (where you buy your Nivea moisturizer) and Unilever, which fills your grocery store shelves with Axe, Hellmann’s, Ben & Jerry’s, and Dove.
I can’t believe it’s not [s]butter[/s] a board member.
But BMW’s looking for transformation.
Robertson was no stranger to change. Having once been in charge of Rolls-Royce, Ian Robertson eventually oversaw the launch of key BMW ranges. “Ian Robertson has shaped the image and future direction of the BMW brand and the BMW i and BMW M sub-brands,” the chairman of BMW’s supervisory board, Norbert Reithofer, said in a statement this morning.
Yet in an age in which the automotive industry is consistently transitioning into new stages, ripping off one set of clothes and strapping on another like a supermodel behind the runway at New York Fashion Week, BMW is looking to an outsider for an approach that will lead the brand’s public image through tumultuous times. “I am convinced,” says Harald Kruger, chairman of BMW’s board of management, “that his proven track record in innovation and transformation will continue to lead our core brand BMW and its products through the future of connected mobility.”
Innovation. Transformation. Connected mobility.
In 2008, Robertson’s first year at the helm of sales and marketing, BMW reported a modest 4 percent global decline in sales as the economy slipped around the world. BMW, Mini, and Rolls-Royce delivered 1,435,876 vehicles in 2008.
In 2016, Robertson’s last full year in charge, global sales climbed to record levels for a sixth consecutive year. The 2,367,603-unit total represented a 65-percent improvement compared with 2008.
Robertson isn’t actually done quite yet. Pieter Nota takes over his new role on in January 2018. Robertson will act as a special representative of the BMW Group in the United Kingdom until June 2018.
Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.
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Thanks, Ian ! Look at BMW's lineup ten years ago. Look at it today. Many of us would rather shop with the Wayback Machine. That's the opposite of progress.
Has BMW really slipped or have competitors finally caught up? Everyone seems to think the E39 or E30 was the last "real" BMW, but on every specification the new versions are faster, more economical, corner harder, stop better, quieter, smoother, roomier, cleaner, and cheaper (on an inflation adjusted basis). Funny thing is - if you go back an look at BMWCCA Roundels from the "golden era" you always got complaints that the E39 had gotten too big and soft, or the E30 was too conservatively styled and too soft, and that BMW needed to go back to building cars like the 2002. I'm sorry, but if I'm a BMW shareholder I am very happy that global sales have increased 50% in the last 8 years. As a car enthusiast, I also have a hard time being angry at BMW when they still build the M2, M240, M3, M4, i8, etc. - if those cars can't put a smile on your face you must be dead.