Kia’s UK chief quits

Kia UK’s managing director Paul Williams is leaving the company following a period of indefinite leave. It is not thought that he has a job to go to.

Williams joined Kia in 2002 from Colt Car Company, where he was sales and marketing director. He is a former chief executive of Daihatsu UK and has also worked at Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Peugeot.

The company admitted at the start of August that Williams was on indefinite leave for "personal reasons" but a spokeswoman denied that he had left the company.

His departure has now been confirmed and Williams says: "This was a difficult decision to take but, as Kia seeks to move on in the UK car market towards its ultimate goal of 100,000 sales, I think the time is right for me to move in a new direction and for the company to continue its journey without me."

Kia’s sales have jumped from 13,000 in 2002, when it became a directly controlled subsidiary, to 40,000 last year. But, in line with the rest of the car market, it has struggled to repeat that success this year. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, sales were down almost 4% at the end of July to 21,470.

A Kia spokeswoman says the company has begun looking for a replacement for Williams. Kia general marketing manager Lawrence Hamilton is not thought to be affected by the changes.

Earlier this month, Kia signed Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal as its global brand ambassador. He will appear in the company’s TV and print ads over the next two years.

Nadal has already been used by Kia’s Spanish headquarters for TV ads in his home country.

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