June 4th 2018, Hangzhou, China. Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Geely Holding), China’s leading privately-owned automotive group, announced today that Mr. Feng Qingfeng, vice president and chief technical officer of Geely Auto Group, has been appointed to succeed Jean-Marc Gales as chief executive officer of Group Lotus effective immediately. Mr. Jean-Marc Gales has chosen to leave for personal reasons and will become Chief Strategic Advisor to Lotus Chairman, Daniel Donghui Li.
Geely Holding, which acquired a controlling stake in Group Lotus in 2017, thanked Mr Gales for his contribution to the company over the past four years. Daniel Donghui Li, chief financial officer of Geely Holding and Lotus Cars Chairman, said: “Jean-Marc has stabilised and turned Lotus to profitability for the first time in the iconic brands history with new
industry leading products and unique business models since joining the company in 2014. Lotus is poised for the next phase of growth under Feng Qingfeng’s leadership, where its expertise in lightweight materials and sport cars-engineering will form part of the wider expansion of Geely ‘s automotive portfolio. At the same time I will welcome Jean-Marc‘s Council as Chief Strategic Advisor to myself and the Board of Directors”
Geely acquired a majority holding in UK-based Lotus – a world leader in high-performance
lightweight sports cars – as part of its agreement last year to acquire 49.9 percent of the shares of PROTON from HICOM Bhd (DRB) of Malaysia, Lotus’s former parent.
Feng Qingfeng (Mr. Feng) said: “I am honoured to have been appointed to lead this iconic British sports car group. With Geely’s global synergies and total support I am confident that Lotus has an exciting opportunity to achieve its full potential as a luxury sports brand, based around its engineering legacy and its future product pipeline.” On 2017 Group Lotus sold 1600 sports vehicles, an increase of 10% versus 2016, produced at its plant in Norfolk, England. In 2017 the company showed a profit for the first time in history.
From TLF CEO ‘Bibs’ on Wednesday 6th June 2018:
“I had a call from JMG yesterday (from his office, he was still there!) and he explained that the new CEO is ideally suited to taking Lotus forwards from this point. With his strong R&D background and intimate knowledge and experience of Geely, he’s the right person for the role.
JMG has spoken with staff and made it clear that the turnaround the company has seen in the past 4 years is a team effort and everyone who works there has been involved is this, it’s their work that has made the company what and where it is right now. When he took over, the company posted a £60m loss on an £80m turnover and he leaves the CEO position with turnover up to £100m and a 8 figure profit (before charges etc) and a positive cashflow, the company pays for itself. While staff were down to 800 in order to save money initially, they’re now back up to 1,000 with another 100 staff required by the end of this year. Lotus was in a very perilous financial position when he started, cuts did have to be made for Lotus to survive that period.
JMG still be staying on (expected 1 day/month) is his role as Chief Strategic Advisor to the Chairman, he still has his company email/phone etc. He’s been very keen to let the new boss understand that everything they do must focus on ‘Lightweight, handling and aerodynamics’ as the core principals of the cars and in his advisory role will be pushing these principals ongoing. The USA will be a focus for the later part of this year and there are other developments in the pipeline for the existing range (carbon fibre wheels anyone, 8kgs lighter than forged and in-car adjustable 3-way suspension?!). Also, he will also be adding a new Lotus to his own garage shortly, either an Evora GT430 or Exige Sport 410.
I’ve had very regular contact myself with JMG during his time at Lotus and I’ve enjoyed working with him and the company throughout this time, as I have with previous CEO’s. Personally, I thanked him for making sure Lotus is still here and in good financial health and congratulated him on what I believe are some of the finest cars Lotus have ever made now coming out of Hethel. I also thanked him for his faith in TLF and for what he’s done for us over the years too. We do get a lot of support (NB never financially, as some people seem to insist on believing) and offer support back which I think is pretty unique and very special for a car club, long may this relationship continue.”
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