Since 2010, the resurgence of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) in the automotive industry has been led by its CEO Dr. Ralf Speth, who has restructured the business and instilled in the company a fresh determination to achieve sustainable and profitable growth.
With more than 22 years of experience in the European automotive industry, mostly at BMW, Speth has a track record of succeeding against the odds – especially in difficult times. While Europe languishes in recession, Speth’s pragmatic approach to business is paying dividends for JLR.
Automotive is a particularly tumultuous industry. “Economic uncertainty, currency imbalances and trade mechanisms which are far from free and fair – these features characterize the world’s market today,” Speth said. “In turn, customers develop new requirements and shape new trends. Modern mobility requires forward-looking solutions, and exciting innovations are redefining all product creation processes.”
A CEO’s responsibility, Speth said, is to understand the big picture, but also to drill into the details when required. “Similarly,” he said, “the balance has to be right between driving business performance day-to-day and ensuring that organizational performance is entirely transformed over the long term.”
Despite orchestrating the transformation of JLR’s fortunes, Speth has not tried to redefine the company itself. “We have preserved and sharpened the DNA of our products and improved a wide range of processes as we strive to become one high-performance organization with two iconic brands,” he said. As the company’s recent launches of the two-seater, convertible F-TYPE Jaguar and new, all-aluminum Range Rover demonstrate, JLR’s vision is to retain the seductive, compelling design and quintessential “Britishness” of its models while incorporating the latest in innovation.
JLR had its best-ever global sales performance in 2012, with retail sales up 30% over a record 2011.
“Cars are still the most complex products readily available to consumers,” Speth said. “There is new technology involved in every element of our current product range, from its underlying construction through all the processes involved in our advanced manufacturing process.”
Speth keeps JLR firmly focused on meeting the demands of its Priority Number One – its customers. “We are delighted to have a loyal, worldwide customer base with a deep interest in and knowledge of our brands,” Speth said. “In addition to our very active Jaguar and Land Rover clubs and societies, we offer a variety of brand experiences and activities devoted to the brand’s heritage – and its present. From Jaguar classic car races and Land Rover extreme off-road challenges to adventure days and tours of our famous Land Rover Experience centers, the experiences we offer are truly awesome and unique. Not only do they allow us to demonstrate the unbelievable capability of our products, but they also help us to maintain a great relationship with our customers.”
Speth’s overarching goal is to delight and impress JLR’s customers. “The customer should be thrilled by a unique brand experience,” Speth explained. “In terms of the legacy I leave behind, I just want to ensure I am handing the company over to the next generation in a better shape than it was before.”
Having achieved its best-ever global sales performance in 2012, with retail sales up 30% over a record 2011 and strong market performances from the UK, China and the US, Speth’s approach is already delivering on that goal.