Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story overstated the length of Valls’ tenure as chairman.
TOKYO — Jose Valls, the chairman of Nissan's struggling North America operations, will leave the company after 14 months at the helm.
Valls' departure after working to retune Nissan's critical U.S. business with new plans and retail approaches is the latest change at the top of Nissan North America. The Argentine Valls assumed the role in April 2019, replacing Denis Le Vot, who was himself in the job for just 14 months. Le Vot succeeded Jose Muñoz, who had led North America since 2014.
In a statement Thursday outlining personnel changes at the carmaker, parent company Nissan Motor Co. said Valls, 52, was leaving for personal reasons, effective June 15.
Nissan will move Infiniti's global chairman, Mike Colleran, 58, to the post of senior vice president over U.S. marketing and sales, effective June 1. Colleran, whose career includes roles at Cadillac and Saab, will replace Airton Cousseau in the position, as Cousseau is elevated to vice chairman for Nissan Latin America.
Cousseau, a former president of Nissan Mexico and a former executive with General Motors and Hyundai, took over the top U.S. sales and marketing job at Nissan North America last July.
Peyman Kargar will take over the Infiniti brand as chairman of its management committee.
Jeremie Papin, 46, currently Nissan's finance chief for North America, will oversee the region as vice chairman, reporting to Christian Vandenhende, the automaker's vice chief performance officer.
Papin joined Nissan North America in 2018 from a role as global finance director for the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.
Nissan has been grappling to rekindle North America as an earning engine. The U.S. is Nissan's second-biggest market after China. But the North American business has long been dogged by strained dealer relations and sagging profitability as the company tries to shift away from fleet sales and heavy incentives.
Nissan Group's U.S. sales tumbled 30 percent through March in an overall market that was down 12 percent. Its market share shrank to 7.3 percent from 9.1 percent.
Restructuring North America is expected to be a key element of a revised midterm business plan that Nissan plans to unveil this month. Nissan is planning worldwide cuts to underperforming regions to bolster operations in the key markets of the U.S., China and Japan.
Former CEO Hiroto Saikawa promoted Valls to spearhead a turnaround in North America, but the Japanese carmaker has continued to struggle in balancing profitability and volume in the U.S.. The broadside of the COVID-19 pandemic was a crowning blow to the efforts.
Since Nissan began reversing the U.S. strategies of ex-Chairman Carlos Ghosn in 2018, the automaker's U.S. performance has been in decline. Management has been openly critical of Ghosn's reliance on profit-eroding incentives and fleet sales to reach market share targets.
Current CEO Makoto Uchida, who took over last December, has said he wants to continue prioritizing "quality sales," but the right formula remains elusive. Nissan's efforts have been hampered by an aging product lineup with few new models to excite consumers.
That was expected to change this year with the arrival of the next-generation Rogue crossover, the brand's top-selling vehicle. But the new Rogue will likely hit a market depressed by the pandemic.
Valls, who joined Nissan in 2011, previously ran the sprawling multimarket South American region. He directed the launch of manufacturing operations in Argentina and previously was key in operating Nissan's most successful market — Mexico.
Valls has a master's degree in management from the University of California, Berkeley and an undergraduate accounting degree from Pontificia Universidad Catolica Santa Maria in Argentina.
Urvaksh Karkaria contributed to this report.