Our disappointment with Lotus stems not just from the way in which they’ve been mismanaged by their new owners, DRB-Hicom, but also the way in which its PR spin-doctors tread such a dangerously insincere line that it’s difficult to see how trust can ever be restored.
Yesterday at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in Shah Alam, DRB-Hicom’s Chairman Datuk Syed Mohamad Syed Murtaza confirmed what we’ve known for a while, that the company is ‘seriously’ considering its options for Group Lotus, including disposing of its stake to focus on more profitable investments.
Writing the epitaph of a once great brand is never an easy thing to do, but yesterday I learned of the departure of Sales and Marketing Director Andy Noble from Caterham Cars – joining the company’s former bosses Ansar Ali and Mark Edwards and leaving just one member of the original management team, after Air Asia boss Tony Fernandes acquired the business last December.
For any business to function it needs to produce a product or service, sell it to customers, develop new offerings and promote them in order to generate demand. It also needs working capital to pay its suppliers, develop its staff and motivate all involved in its organisation to outperform its competitors. Lotus appears to be doing none of these, and to all intents and purposes is like a patient ‘surviving’ on life support – not ‘living’ – because that would involve actually getting up and doing something, but surviving – as in artificially being kept alive.
It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s been following Group Lotus recently, that Dany Bahar, who was fired as CEO back in June this year, has initiated a claim for £6.7m ($10.6 million) against his former employers for “unlawful early termination of his employment”.
The first production Exige S came off the assembly line last week, beginning a new phase for the Norfolk sportscar maker. Chief Operating Officer, Aslam Farikullah, marked the milestone event by speaking out for the first time about his plans for the company.
Earlier this week I got together with Margareta Pagano, Business Editor of The Independent newspaper, and compared notes on the state of play at Norfolk’s favourite car maker.
Each year the Goodwood Festival of Speed showcases a featured marque, a car maker which inspires adoration, perhaps because of its style, success on the track, or the enigmatic founder behind its name. This year the opportunity falls to Lotus which is celebrated with a with a huge 28-metre-high sculpture outside Goodwood House.
In a statement released this evening, DRB-Hicom announced the appointment of Mohd Aslam Bin Farikullah as Lotus’ new Chief Operating Officer (COO), at the same time as they confirmed the termination of Dany Bahar as Group Lotus CEO.
DRB-Hicom released a statement last night confirming that beleaguered sports car maker, Lotus, is not for sale. But what is their motivation for providing such an assurance, and what does this ‘really’ mean?
Several people have asked me why Dany Bahar, the CEO of Group Lotus, was suspended last Friday, and why DRB-Hicom have chosen not to give a reason when asked.
Ferrari were the innovators in this space back in 2007, led by their Head of Sales, Marketing and Communications at the time – Dany Bahar. The Ferrari Store was then joined by Ferrari Artelier – providing an area within flagship stores where customers could feel and experience its products and the type of customisations on offer.