Aston Martin to replace chief executive amid torrid stock market ride

Andy Palmer is to leave his position as chief executive of luxury sports-car maker Aston Martin amid a torrid stock market journey.
Aston Martin, the famous British car marque, is behind sports car models such as the DB11. Picture Ian Rutherford.Aston Martin, the famous British car marque, is behind sports car models such as the DB11. Picture Ian Rutherford.
Aston Martin, the famous British car marque, is behind sports car models such as the DB11. Picture Ian Rutherford.

The famous British marque, which is best known for making James Bond’s car of choice, announced that Palmer is to be replaced as chief executive by Tobias Moers, who currently runs Mercedes-AMG – the German manufacturer’s high-performance division.

The number of vehicles sold by Aston Martin almost halved in the first three months of the year, as it was hit by the start of the global coronavirus crisis.

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The company had already been struggling before the pandemic hit, and its share price is down 94 per cent compared with when it listed in October 2018.

Aston Martin said in a statement that Palmer and the board “agreed that he would step down as president and group chief executive”.

Palmer told investors: “It has been a privilege to serve Aston Martin Lagonda for almost six years. The launch of many new products, including the new DBX, demonstrates the dedication and capability of our employees.

“I would like to thank my management team and all the staff for their hard work and support, particularly during the challenges presented by Covid-19. I am proud of you all and it’s been an honour to work with you.”

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The firm’s executive chairman, Lawrence Stroll, thanked Palmer for his “hard work, personal commitment and dedication” but claimed “now is the time for new leadership to deliver our plans”.

Moers is set to join Aston on 1 August and will be based at the company’s headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire.

He said: “I am truly excited to be joining Aston Martin Lagonda at this point of its development. I have always had a passion for performance cars and relish the chance to work for this iconic brand.”

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said the change of leadership was further evidence of new owner Lawrence Stroll “making his mark in trying to turn the business around”.

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Earlier this month, Aston said it had sold 578 vehicles in the first quarter of 2020, down from 1,057 in the same period last year. That caused its losses after tax to accelerate to £118.9 million, compared with £17.3m the year before, on revenues of £78.6m, a decline of 60 per cent.

All Aston’s manufacturing sites in the UK were closed from 25 March, and 93 per cent of its global network of dealers shut their doors at some point during the first quarter.

Sales in China dropped by 86 per cent, with the Europe, Middle East and Africa region reversing 30 per cent. Sales tumbled by 57 per cent in the Americas. The UK was more resilient, falling just 3 per cent.

However, the company revealed what could be the first shoots of recovery. All 18 of its dealerships in China have reopened, and more than 15 per cent of the global network are “fully open”.

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It recently started producing bodies for its first luxury SUV – the DBX – at the Welsh St Athan factory.

Adam Vettese, an analyst at investment platform eToro, said: “The 18 months since Aston Martin floated on the stock market has been a living nightmare for the company.”

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