Thierry Bolloré steps down as chief executive of the UK’s largest automotive employer, Jaguar Land Rover

Thierry Bolloré has resigned as chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) after two years in the role, citing “personal reasons”, in an unexpected move that raised questions about the strategy of the UK’s biggest automotive employer.

JLR’s Indian owner Tata Motors announced the resignation, which will take effect on December 31, in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange in Mumbai.

JLR’s longtime CFO Adrian Mardell will take over as interim CEO after Bolloré’s departure. The search for a permanent successor to Bolloré will be led by Tata in India, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

The resignation will mean the Coventry-based company will have to deal with a change of management at a time when it is struggling with ongoing disruption caused by shortages of semiconductor computer chips, which have limited production and contributed to a string of deep financial losses during Bolloré’s tenure. Furthermore, demand for cars is expected to fall as the UK enters an expected recession, and the company must also continue to find large amounts of money to invest in the production of new electric vehicles.

Bolloré was appointed chief executive of JLR in July 2020, taking over from Sir Ralf Speth, who led the company for a decade, in September of that year.

Wednesday’s announcement caught industry watchers by surprise, with Bolloré still overseeing the company’s strategy to restructure the business, including making the Jaguar brand all-electric by 2025 and trying to push it toward the luxury end of the market. . The company remained committed to the strategy that Bolloré established, a source said.

In a statement, Bolloré said: “I am immensely proud of what we have achieved together at Jaguar Land Rover over the past two years. The company’s transformation and acceleration towards a sustainable and profitable future as a modern luxury business is underway apace.

“I would like to thank the entire team for their dedication and passion and I wish the entire organization the best for the future.”

Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons, the vast conglomerate whose UK interests also include steelmaking, technology services and Tetley tea, thanked Bolloré in a statement.

“The foundation for a successful transformation has been laid, leaving the company well prepared for the future,” he said.

David Bailey, a professor of business economics at the University of Birmingham who studies the UK auto industry, said Bolloré’s departure would raise questions about JLR’s future strategy at a time when the company and other automakers are still working on how to make the transition to electricity. vehicles

Bolloré had “destroyed” much of JLR’s previous strategy upon his arrival, including scrapping a planned electric version of the XJ sedan that had advanced to the prototype stage, Bailey said.

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