Author: Matt Morton
KIA has been undertaking a fast turnaround of its image thanks to a continuing range of new and stylish products, from award-winning superminis – such as the Kia Rio, our ‘Best sub-100g/km company car’ in our recent Best Business Car awards – to its eye-catching SUVs like the Kia Sportage.
But one product is making a return visit – without a facelift! And that’s the former managing director of Kia, Paul Philpott, who is returning to Kia in the UK and Ireland as president and chief executive officer, the first time a non-Korean has been handed the role.
Paul returns to the company’s Weybridge in Surrey HQ in July after a stint with Kia Europe as the chief operating officer of Kia Motors Europe based in Frankfurt. Paul, 45, was managing director from 2007 until he moved to Frankfurt in 2009.
Kia said that the appointment was part of the company’s plan to strengthen its global representation and management.
“The Kia brand is now Europe’s fastest growing thanks to Paul Philpott and he knows very well that we are determined to strengthen local management at all our subsidiary companies in order to become a truly global automotive organisation,” commented Brandon Yea, president of Kia Motors Europe.
“This promotion is putting an individual with specific local expertise into a role that we have previously filled from headquarters in Korea – as we have developed our operations around the world. Now is the right time – in our best performing market in Europe – to change our strategic focus and I cannot think of anyone better than Paul to take on this duty. I want to thank him on behalf of the Kia Motors Corporation as well as Kia Motors Europe for all he has achieved for the business over the last three years here in Frankfurt.”
Paul added: “I am very sad to leave an excellent team at KME but I am truly excited by the task I have been asked to undertake. Of course I am very happy to be moving back to the UK and to have the chance to work again with an excellent team and some of the best dealers in Europe. With Michael Cole and everyone at Weybridge I look forward to putting Kia right into the top rank of premium volume manufacturers in the UK and helping to ensure our dealers and customers will have an ever-improving experience with Kia.”
Michael Cole, managing director at Kia UK, added on this business car news: “Having worked with Paul in the past at Toyota and having succeeded him in this role in the UK I am delighted that he is coming back to help us continue the major task of taking Kia to our longer-term vision of 100,000 sales per year in the UK. Paul’s understanding of the relationship between manufacturer and dealer network is unrivalled and his efforts to construct a strong, aspirational and attractive business proposition for our partners can only contribute positively to the remarkable growth we have enjoyed in the UK.”
Married with two children, Philpott, graduated in Finance at Loughborough University, and spent 12 months in the financial sector before joining Ford Motor Company in 1988. After nine years in Ford’s UK Sales and Marketing Division, he moved to Toyota as general manager, marketing.
Philpott was appointed marketing director in 1999 and in 2003 became commercial director with responsibility for all of Toyota’s commercial operations in the UK – sales, marketing, aftersales and logistics before moving to Kia.