David Buttner has resigned as chairman and managing director of Holden due to personal reasons, Kristian Aquilina replaces him.

AFTER A SHORT 16 months at the helm of Australia’s most iconic car brand, Holden chairman and managing director David Buttner has stepped down effective immediately.

Replacing the former Toyota Australia boss is Kristian Aquilina, who will step up from his role as executive director of sales and marketing for the lion brand. Aquilina has been with the brand for more than 20 years.

The announcement, which follows an internal email sent earlier today from senior vice president of GM International Operations, Julian Blissett, comes just before Holden is expected to notch another month of slow sales, already recording five of its worst trading months this year out of its 71 years of operation.

Holden currently sits tenth on the sales charts and pending Vfacts figures this month could see it drop out of the top-ten.

Despite a move to push hard into SUVs and bolster sales of the Colorado with special editions and advertising, Holden’s sales this year have declined almost 30 per cent year-on-year. The new car market as a whole is down but Holden’s figures are beyond the average 8.0 percent dip.

In its official media release, Holden said Buttner’s departure was due to personal reasons.

“Dave’s experience and professionalism have been significant assets for Holden since his appointment in 2018,” said Blissett.

“Not only has he led critical work, he has developed a highly credentialled leadership team, enabling an orderly transition.”

Buttner said Holden was now in a good position to succeed.

“Holden’s focus remains on getting onto the consideration list for SUV and LCV buyers in Australia and New Zealand,” said Buttner.

“We have made significant progress in getting the fundamentals right. Now is the right time for me to depart the business, with a strong team in place, to be led by Kristian.”

Kristian Aquilina
New Holden boss Kristian Aquilina

Blisset added that Aquilina had proved his worth as a successor for the role Buttner leaves.

“With critical groundwork underway, the company will implement an orderly leadership succession,” he said.

“Kristian has previously served as Managing Director of Holden New Zealand from 2015 to mid-2018, before returning to Australia to lead Marketing. Earlier this year he was promoted to Executive Director Sales, Marketing and Aftersales. With more than 22 years in the company, he has the experience, the leadership qualities and the deep understanding of the business and the market to lead GM Holden at this important time.”

In accepting his new role as managing director, Aquilina said he would continue Buttner’s plan.

“Under Dave’s leadership, we have laid out clear priorities for the business. While much progress has been made, there is still a lot of work to do.

“My focus is on providing continuity around the execution of our plans, ensuring the team at Holden, including dealers and partners, continue to focus on our customers.”


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Alex Rae

Alex Rae brings almost two decades’ experience, previously working at publications including Wheels, WhichCar, Drive/Fairfax, Carsales.com.au, AMC, Just Cars, and more.

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