Paul WillcoxPaul Willcox


Stellantis UK boss Paul Willcox to retire from carmaker next month

  • Willcox wrote to dealers today to announce the news
  • He will retire at the end of next month with Maria Grazia Davino taking over role
  • Announcement ‘not a surprise’ one retailer tells Car Dealer

Time 1:13 pm, July 6, 2023

Stellantis UK group managing director Paul Willcox has decided to retire from the carmaker and will leave the business next month.

In a letter sent to Stellantis’s dealer network today and leaked to Car Dealer, Willcox, 59, said he hadn’t made the decision to leave lightly.

‘This was not an easy decision as I will be sorry to be departing such a committed and professional team as we have in the UK.

‘I want to thank you all for the support that you have given me both in my previous position of Vauxhall MD and more recently UK group MD.’

He added: ‘I am looking forward to spending time relaxing with my family and friends after such a long and interesting career which started with Peugeot in 1988 and finished with my return to the group in recent years.’

Since starting his automotive career at the French carmaker in 1988, Willcox has held senior roles at Nissan and Volkswagen before joining Stellantis’s predecessor, Groupe PSA, in July 2019 as head of the Eurasia region. 

In 2021, he took over from Stephen Norman as Vauxhall MD before being promoted to lead Stellantis in the UK last year, replacing Alison Jones who moved to a global position.

Willcox also named his successor in the letter – Maria Grazia Davino, who’s currently head of sales and marketing in the ‘Enlarged Europe Organisation’.

He said: ‘Maria Grazia will start her new role at the end of August and we will work together until then to ensure a smooth handover.’

Willcox oversaw a dramatic senior management shake-up at the beginning of 2023, which saw most of the UK managing directors of the Stellantis-owned car brands switching places with each other, and the creation of a new Network Operations department.

He also publicly announced Stellantis was wielding the axe on 138 dealers and preparing the ground for Alfa Romeo and DS Automobiles to switch to agency sales.

The agency sales agreements were supposed to go live in May 2023, but Car Dealer understands the implementation of the contracts has been delayed at least once.

One Stellantis dealer told Car Dealer he wasn’t surprised Willcox had made the decision to retire from the company.

‘I’m not surprised at all! Profitability [in the UK] is at an all-time low and there have been constant changes to contracts – and those contracts are just one-way traffic to Stellantis.

‘Stellantis is making billions and yet the network is making nothing.’

The dealer, who wished to remain anonymous for possible fear of recrimination, said: ‘Just look at the market shares [of the Stellantis brands] – there’s no volume!’

In June year-to-date figures issued by the SMMT on July 5, market share has slipped for nearly all Stellantis brands so far this year.

Top brand Vauxhall has seen its share drop from 5.96 per cent to 5.21 per cent compared with the same period last year. 

Peugeot has fallen from 3.99 per cent to 3.20, while Citroen has slipped from 1.88 to 1.64 per cent.

Abarth, Alfa Romeo and DS have dropped too, while Jeep has remained level at 0.17 per cent. Maserati has risen marginally from 0.05 to 0.06 per cent.    

Another dealer told Car Dealer that Stellantis chief Carlos Tavares had been to the UK recently for ‘crunch talks with management about market share and performance’.

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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