Proton chief quits to set up business

Darren Payne, the UK commercial director of Malaysia’s national car manufacturer Proton Cars, has left the company.

Payne, who left last week, joined Proton in June 1998 from Rolls Royce as head of sales and marketing.

He retained responsibility for sales and marketing when he was promoted to commercial director last March.

The company is not seeking a direct replacement for Payne. The marketing and sales function is being overseen by Tengku Hasmadi, who was transferred to the UK at the end of last year from Malaysia as director of customer retention and acquisition.

A spokesman for Proton says Payne is intending to set up his own business venture, and that his departure was not connected to Hasmadi’s arrival.

He continues: “His (Hasmadi’s) arrival was part of other strategic plans the company has for the UK.”

The car company, which also has a majority stake in Lotus cars had intended to export more cars to Europe from Malaysia.

However, these plans have been slowed down following the economic crisis in Asia.

According to figures released by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Proton sold 5,986 cars last year and had 0.27 per cent share of car sales in the UK.

This compares with 1998 when it had 0.32 per cent share and sold 7,269 cars.

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