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Kia boss puts new fleet team in place

Date: 20 June 2007   |   Author:

Kia's new UK boss Paul Philpott has moved to strengthen the Korean brand's fleet presence with the creation of a new team dedicated to a serious attack on the corporate market.

The move comes as the new Kia boss finalises his management team with the appointment of Yaser Shabsogh as sales director and Simon Hetherington as marketing director. Shabsogh moves from Ford, while Hetherington joins from Toyota.

"This company has not served the fleet and business industry at all," Philpott told BusinessCar. "We've done rental, broker, dealer demos and bits and pieces of other. Bob [Austin, corporate sales manager] has had a field sales team of two plus an administrator and you can't serve the business community with that team and do 18,000 units."

That's the figure Kia managed in fleet last year thanks to a reliance on low-profit deals which has been ended by Philpott, who joined the company early this year. This year will see a heavily reduced volume into the business market.

"We weren't set up to target fleet or do any kind of service to fleet," he said. "We didn't create enough natural business and pushed straight into a high-discount strategy."

Philpott claims the "deliberate strategy" to cut back has seen immediate residual value improvements of 10-15% across most of the range.

The company has also introduced a larger fleet team of eight field sales staff as well as a centralised team of six in the Kia business centre that act as first point of call for any business enquiries or issues. "As far as the fleet world goes, Kia is off most people's radar."

Philpott is also encouraging sales to local business via a new network of 20 fleet specialist dealers across the country.

"We hadn't been able to go to local businesses with five customers," he said. "Now the dealers are equipped with pre-approved discount terms for the butcher, baker and candlestick maker in their local area. We've got some arms and legs out in the retail network starting to do business and we've not had that before.

"We don't need to bribe people, we just need to tell them how good the car is. I don't think this industry is difficult, it's about getting the basics right."