Aston Martin boss to step down in wake of COVID-19 sales hit

Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer is to step down in the wake of plunging sales and heavy losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The luxury carmaker has announced he will be replaced as chief executive by Tobias Moers, who currently runs Mercedes-AMG, the German manufacturer’s high-performance arm.

The number of vehicles sold by Aston Martin almost halved in the first three months of the year, as it was hit by the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

The company said it had sold 578 vehicles in the first quarter, down from 1,057 in the same period last year.

It caused loss before tax to soar to £118.9m, up from £17.3m the year before.

Even before the coronavirus emergency, the company, renowned for being favoured by the fictional spy James Bond, had been struggling with its share price down 94% compared with when it listed in October 2018.

Announcing the change, Lawrence Stroll, Aston Martin Lagonda’s executive chairman, said: “The board has determined that now is the time for new leadership to deliver our plans.

“On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Andy for his hard work, personal commitment and dedication to Aston Martin Lagonda since 2014.”

He added: “I would also like to recognise his leadership through the current challenges and uncertainties presented by COVID-19.”

The company said Mr Moers, who will be based at its headquarters in Warwickshire, had built a reputation for transforming businesses in tough environments during his 25 years in senior roles at Daimler.

Germany’s Daimler AG owns a 5% stake in Aston Martin and supplies the carmaker with Mercedes-AMG engines.

Mr Stroll said: “I am delighted to welcome Tobias to Aston Martin Lagonda. He is an exceptionally talented automotive professional and a proven business leader with a strong track record during his many years at Daimler AG, with whom we have a longstanding and successful technical and commercial partnership, which we look forward to continuing.

“Throughout his career he has delivered product expansion, strengthened brand positioning and improved profitability.

“He is the right leader for Aston Martin Lagonda as we implement our strategy for the business to achieve its full potential.”

Mr Palmer said: “It has been a privilege to serve Aston Martin Lagonda for almost six years.

“I would like to thank my management team and all the staff for their hard work and support, particularly during the challenges presented by COVID-19. I am proud of you all and it’s been an honour to work with you.”

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