Ford has announced a change in its geographic business unit structure with the formation of the new Middle East and Africa region. The new business unit combines Middle East and Africa regions, made up of four sub-regions of North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa, and the Middle East, into a single business unit.
Effective January 1, 2014, the change will result in the consolidation of all sales and financial reporting for the 47 Ford markets throughout the Middle East and Africa. The newly-established Ford Middle East and Africa operation will be headquartered in Dubai and rank as Ford’s fifth global business unit.
“The Middle East and Africa region is comprised of very diverse markets with different political, cultural and economic environments,” said Stephen Odell, president, Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Building a robust and profitable operation in this region requires a dedicated focus and clear understanding of how to support the unique conditions and customer needs in these markets.”
To establish a dedicated focus and support surrounding the diversity of the markets, Ford will manage the newly-established Middle East and Africa unit as two sub-regions — South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle east and North Africa. Regional headquarters will be located in Dubai, but Ford will also maintain regional offices in both South Africa and Dubai.
According to a news release, key priorities for the planned Ford Middle East and Africa region include:
- Bringing more new Ford vehicles to customers in the region through the One Ford global vehicle and technology portfolio, including 17 new or refreshed vehicles in the next 24 months
- Supporting Ford’s dealer network throughout the region to service customer needs
- Expanding parts accessibility and service support throughout the Middle East and Africa
The new Ford Middle East and Africa region will be led by Jim Benintende, a 36-year Ford veteran who will oversee operations in all 47 markets. Mr. Benintende has significant experience in the Middle East and Africa region, according to Ford. He most recently served as director, Ford Export Operations and Global Growth Initiatives and previously served the Ford Middle East and North Africa region in various roles from 1994-2006.
“Our intention is to grow the Ford business while staying true to our principles of being active and supportive members of the community in the Middle East and Africa,” said Benintende, whose new title will be president, Ford Middle East and Africa. “Under the One Ford strategy, we will be able to leverage our global vehicle and technology portfolio, and our scale to better serve customers in this important and dynamic region.”
Notably, Ford and Lincoln sales grew 60 percent in the past four years in the Middle East, and the reorganization into a single business unit “underscores Ford’s commitment to customers” in the region, the automaker said in a news release. Ford expects the region to continue growing, to the tune of 40 percent, or around 5.5 million units, by 2020.
“The Middle East and Africa is poised to become one of the next big automotive growth markets and we want to be there for these customers with great new cars and trucks,” said Stephen Odell, president, Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa, speaking at the Dubai International Motor Show, where the restructuring announcement initially made. “Ford and Lincoln sales have grown 60 percent in the Middle East over the past four years, and we expect total industry sales in the combined Middle East and Africa region to increase nearly 40 percent to around 5.5 million units by 2020.”
Ford’s announcement to create the unified Africa and Middle East business unit coincides with a related announcement made at the Dubai auto show to introduce 17 new or refreshed Ford or Lincoln models to the region by 2017.