From 1st February Roelant de Waard will be Ford of Britain’s Chairman and Managing Director. Mr. de Waard, 43, was previously head of Ford of Europe’s customer service division. As Managing Director he is replacing Paul Thomas, who moves to become responsible for all of Ford's pan-European consumer advertising and product marketing communications, vehicle pricing and production programming as Vice-President of Marketing for Ford of Europe. As Chairman, de Waard replaces Roger Putnam, who retired at the end of 2005.
Thomas says that ‘leading Ford in Britain is an enormous and complex role for any manager’ and plans to apply everything he’s learned to his new European position. Stephen Odell, Vice-President of Marketing, Sales and Service for Ford of Europe, classifies the UK market as ‘one of the most brutally competitive in the world.’
De Waard has previously been Managing Director of Ford Netherlands and has worked in global marketing and product development jobs in the United States. Odell identifies de Waard as the architect of European Ford dealers’ new corporate identity and overseer of the development of their customer service business.
De Waard, a snowboarder and biker, has this to say about what lies ahead: ‘Britain is one of the car world's greatest challenges and greatest opportunities. With the combined strength of the exciting new-generation products, our dealer network and the Ford of Britain organisation, I am confident we can extend our leadership in this crucial market.’
He will certainly need his wits about him to provide a bright spot amidst Ford’s global gloom. Although their UK sales were down 5% in 2005, Ford of Britain still sold far more cars than any other manufacturer here in the last year.