Jurgen Stackmann is the new chairman of the Seat brand, according to a statement from Volkswagen Group. Stackmann is the replacement of James Muir, who will take on an unnamed senior management role within the group. The 51-year-old Stackmann will be the head of the Seat brand effective on May 1. Stackmann, who used to be a Ford Motor executive, was the head of VW Group sales and marketing starting last September.
VW declined to offer a reason for this change. It did mention that Muir had helped in the progression of Seat’s restructuring ever since he became responsible for the Spanish brand in 2009. From VW Group's 2012 results that were unveiled on March 14, we learned that Seat cut its operating loss by 31% in 2012 to 156 million euros compared with 2011.
The worldwide auto sales of the bran decreased by 8.3% to 321,000 units in 2012. The financial slump in Europe had a huge impact on Seat. In 2012, its home market even recorded a 13% drop.
But Seat made a small recovery to date this year, due partly to the launch of new models like the Toledo and Leon. In the first quarter, Seat's global vehicle sales increased by almost 9% to 87,100, helped by a 27% increase in Germany and an 8% climb in Mexico. For several years, VW has been trying to rise above losses caused by underutilized capacity at Seat's primary plant in Martorell.
To increase output, VW shifted the production of the Audi luxury division's Q3 compact SUV to the Spanish plant in 2011. Losses were cut due to the implementation of cost-cutting measures as well as the launch of new models and Seat vehicles to China.
VW finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch has stated that Seat will be profitable this year. But last month, Poetsch made a curious statement to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, saying that it is still unclear if Seat would earn a profit in 2013.