Dave Buttner has stepped down from the top job at Holden following 16 months in the role.
A press release from General Motors confirmed news that the current chairman and managing director is “leaving the company for personal reasons”, with Kristian Aquilina taking on the position in the interim.
GM’s senior vice-president of international operations, Julian Blissett, thanked Buttner for his service.
“Dave’s experience and professionalism have been significant assets for Holden since his appointment in 2018,” he said in a statement. “Not only has he led critical work, he has developed a highly credentialed leadership team, enabling an orderly transition.”
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Buttner, who was the president of Toyota Australia from 2014 until the company’s local manufacturing ceased in 2017, came out of retirement to join Holden.
In the press release announcing his departure, Buttner praised the team at Holden, and highlighted progress made since the end of local production in 2017.
“Holden’s focus remains on getting onto the consideration list for SUV and LCV buyers in Australia and New Zealand,” he said.
“We have made significant progress in getting the fundamentals right. Now is the right time for me to depart the business, with a strong team in place, to be led by Kristian.”
Aquilina was the managing director of Holden New Zealand between 2015 and mid-2018, before returning to Australia last year to head up the marketing department. At the beginning of 2019 he was promoted to executive director of sales, marketing and aftersales.
Blissett said: “With more than 22 years in the company, he has the experience, the leadership qualities and the deep understanding of the business and the market to lead GM Holden at this important time.”
Aquilina says his priorities in his new role will be “providing continuity around the execution of our plans, ensuring the team at Holden, including dealers and partners, continue to focus on our customers.”
Buttner’s time in the top job at Holden has been marred by spiralling sales, with the brand at risk of falling out of the top 10 sellers list.
Upon taking the role, he made the drastic decision to request Holden Commodore and Equinox models cease production, in order to get rid of excess stock.
The former Toyota exec has also been at the helm amid media reports that Holden could be sold by GM, something he dismissed as “pure scuttlebutt”.