A few days before the publication of the financial data concerning the third quarter Ford has announced a swap of responsibility between Steve Odell, the current head of Europe and Jim Farley who is in charge of global sales, marketing and post sales. This swap doesn’t convince us. But let us first look at on the results of Ford in Europe which, contrary to that announced by the CFO Bob Shanks last March, are not going in the hoped-for direction.

Despite the market share and the turnover are growing in the third trimester the operating margin has fallen by  -6.4% and the net losses have risen to 439 million dollars, 257 million more compared to the same period last year. It is probable that the losses by the end of the year will sum up to over a billion dollars and that not even in 2015 after closing three factories will Ford go back to profit in Europe. A change of management seems inevitable.

It’s the great opportunity for Farley, who at the tender age of 52 finally takes on a P&L responsibility after a brilliant career in staff mainly roles.

Rather as Marchionne has done with Altavilla, Ford’s CEO Mark Fields is placing his best talent in Europe. If he manages the turnaround in Europe, Farley would become a credible successor of Fields who is anyway almost the same age and has just been nominated. Should he fail Fields would get rid of a dangerous competitor.

On the other hand we believe that for Odell the swap isn’t good news, it is possible that Fields wanted to save the honour of his good friend and former Mazda colleague. Odell is almost 60 and as well as Ford and Mazda he has had prestigious posts at Jaguar and Volvo and a vast operational experience that ill suits the profile of the position he is going to take on in January.

We suspect that for the “Basildon boy” who started in Ford as an apprentice in 1980 this next step will also be his last.

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