TOKYO - In a sweeping management realignment that rewarded performance and rebuked laggards, Nissan Motor Co. last week concentrated more power in the hands of the company's dynamic president, Carlos Ghosn, and for the first time made the head of design a senior vice president.
Ghosn now takes direct responsibility for sales operations in Japan, which have fallen short of several targets over the past year. He replaces Hiroshi Moriyama, executive vice president of the domestic marketing and sales group, who was removed from Nissan's Executive Committee to the less-powerful post of company auditor.
Trouble at home
Underscoring its dissatisfaction with home-market performance, Nissan also replaced the heads of 20 of its troubled factory-owned dealer companies in Japan.
Ghosn also was given direct management control of Nissan's alliance with Renault SA, which owns a controlling 36.8 percent of the Japanese carmaker.
Renault Chairman Louis Schweitzer and Nissan Chairman Yoshikazu Hanawa will continue to set the strategic direction of the alliance. However, as the alliance becomes an operational reality through shared platforms, factories and purchasing, Ghosn will become more active in managing those operations.
Among other key changes:
Shiro Nakamura, whom Ghosn lured from Isuzu Motors Ltd. to become head of design, will become a senior vice president. Ghosn has increased the prestige and clout of the design department within Nissan.
Norio Matsumura, executive vice president of the overseas operations group, will head a new global sales and marketing organization. He will be in charge of the worldwide launch of 18 models planned for the next two years, Nissan said.
Itaru Koeda, executive vice president of the purchasing group, adds the title of chairman of the European management committee.
Sir Ian Gibson, senior vice president, will retire. After Nissan eliminated all regional presidents, the title Gibson previously held in Europe, he began to step back from day-to-day management operations.
Mamoru Yoshida will become president of Nissan Canada, replacing Kiyoharu Owada, who will take charge of one of Nissan's Japan dealership companies. Owada, 53, led Nissan Canada to record sales and increased its profitability. Yoshida, 43, who was promoted from a business-development team, jumped two rungs to his new position. Nissan has been using the teams to identify and train its next generation of leaders.
Japanese carmakers and their unions are in the midst of the annual Shunto, or spring wage offensive, when the two sides dicker over salary increases and bonuses for the fiscal year that begins April 1. All other Japanese carmakers have proposed keeping bonuses unchanged, or below last year's levels. Their talks drag on.
Ghosn, however, proposed rewarding Nissan workers by raising their bonus to an amount equal to 5.2 months' pay, up from 4.0 months' last year. Nissan posted its best results in a decade in the fiscal first half ended Sept. 30, 2000.
Nissan's union promptly accepted the proposal.