The man who made the decision to pull the pin on Australian Holden manufacturing, General Motors head of international operations Stefan Jacoby, has admitted that he “underestimated” consumer concern following the announcement and communication from the brand wasn’t clear enough.
“Personally I think I have underestimated that kind of … uncertainty of our consumers,” Jacoby said of the aftermath of the closure announcement.
“Over the last year we found this uncertainty bigger than we expected it to be. We expected that there would be some uncertainty, but we thought we would have more or less initiated a lot of communications in order to clarify our position. And we have to admit that we have to do more to really clarify that we really mean it with Holden.
“Maybe from the very beginning we should have made more efforts to clarify that the decision to wind down our manufacturing has nothing to do with our presence as well. We have identified that and we will act now accordingly.”
Asked directly whether the communications to the media and public following the closure announcement was clear enough, Jacoby said, “No I don’t think so.”
The international operations chief maintains, however, that while he stands by his decision to end local manufacturing, there was never a question about whether the Holden brand would be retained.
“There is no question, no question at any point to negotiate or question keeping Holden,” he said.
“We are deciding step-by-step the future product portfolio for Holden in Australia, and the first message which we maybe have not communicated strong enough is that we believe Holden is an extremely strong and iconic brand in Australia.
“With all the efforts with what we are doing to strengthen our brands … Holden is an iconic brand and it would be stupid to give this up. Our decision to close manufacturing has nothing to do with how we want to maintain our presence in Australia … we want to strengthen and maintain [it].”