Ford will combine its African and Middle East divisions into one business unit from the beginning of January next year. Ford Middle East and Africa will be managed in two sub-regions – South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa. The carmaker said that while regional operations will be headquartered in Dubai, Ford will maintain a regional office in South Africa.
The new organisation will be led by Jim Benintende, who will oversee operations in all 47 markets. Benintende has significant experience in the Middle East and Africa region, most recently as director, Ford Export Operations and Global Growth Initiatives. He also previously served in the Ford Middle East and North Africa region in various roles from 1994-2006. He took up the new role in September this year.
The company said its key priorities for the new organisation will be to bring more vehicles to customers through the One Ford global vehicle and technology portfolio, including 17 new or refreshed vehicles in the next 24 months.
It also said the move will support Ford’s dealer network throughout the region and expand parts accessibility and service support through the Middle East and Africa, though it did not provide further details on what this meant for the logistics network across the region.
“The Middle East and Africa region is comprised of very diverse markets with different political, cultural and economic environments,” said Stephen Odell, president, Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Building a robust and profitable operation in this region requires a dedicated focus and clear understanding of how to support the unique conditions and customer needs in these markets.”
In the first three quarters of this year, Ford Middle East has already recorded strong sales with a nearly 20% increase compared to the same period in 2012. The strong performance is down to good customer demand for Ford and Lincoln vehicles said the company, complemented by massive dealer expansions across the region.
Ford’s move follows on from a similar operations reorganisation made by GM in Africa last year, which incorporated all Sub-Saharan operations into one unit, including manufacturing in South Africa, and North Africa, including its production facilities in Egypt and Kenya.