Retirement finally nears for AutoNation’s Jackson – News Chant USA

Longtime AutoNation Inc. CEO Mike Jackson might finally have his retirement date.

More than two and a half years after AutoNation’s board of administrators thought it had discovered its substitute for Jackson solely to later recall the auto retail veteran to that position, the nation’s largest dealership group has landed a prime auto trade government as its subsequent CEO.

AutoNation on Tuesday said it had hired former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Mike Manley to exchange Jackson as CEO efficient Nov. 1. Manley, who has auto retail expertise, is at the moment head of Americas for Stellantis — the company fashioned when PSA and FCA merged in January.

Jackson, 72, who has been CEO of AutoNation for many of the previous 22 years, can even retire from AutoNation’s board of administrators.

The hiring of Manley, 57, marks a brand new period at AutoNation, which could have its fourth CEO since February 2019. The dealership group, with $20 billion in annual income and 228 dealerships, is within the midst of a large-scale growth of its AutoNation USA used-vehicle-only shops and is working to develop digital gross sales however faces challenges because the auto trade embarks on a shift to electrical automobiles.

It’s been a protracted highway to exchange Jackson, who first introduced plans in fall 2018 to go away his CEO submit and briefly did whereas the retailer cycled by two different chiefs.

Morningstar analyst David Whiston instructed Automotive News that he sees the Manley hire as a optimistic for AutoNation and that Manley might have been trying for one other CEO position. Manley labored for dealerships within the United Kingdom earlier than he joined DaimlerChrysler in 2000.

“The fact that they got someone to make a switch to the other side I think is interesting, and I think that’ll serve AutoNation well because Manley should have extensive experience working with dealers,” Whiston mentioned. “He’s probably known Mike Jackson for many years, for example.

“And Manley in all probability additionally has loads of relationships with different automakers. And now as a supplier he’ll must leverage these relationships not simply with Stellantis, [but] he’ll want to have the ability to speak to GM and Toyota and Ford and everybody else. So I believe it will be a very good hire.”

Whiston had expected AutoNation to seek an outsider as CEO. He noted that landing Manley may have accelerated the timeline for Jackson’s departure, which had been planned for April 2022. Jackson will now leave about five months earlier.

In September 2018, AutoNation announced it was looking for a new CEO and mentioned Jackson would develop into government chairman as soon as a substitute was employed.

In early 2019, the company hired Carl Liebert, an trade outsider and COO of insurance coverage supplier USAA, to develop into CEO, and Jackson retired from that submit.

Liebert began within the position in March 2019 however was let go in July 2019 when the company shifted gears and named its longtime CFO Cheryl Miller as CEO. Liebert turned out to not be a great match, Jackson mentioned at the moment.

Miller’s tenure on the prime of AutoNation additionally was short-lived. She requested medical leave in April 2020, and AutoNation returned Jackson to the CEO seat to fill in for Miller whereas she was out. But she by no means returned, resigning from the company in July 2020.

At that point, with the coronavirus pandemic well underway, AutoNation said it had extended Jackson’s contract to April 12, 2022. The company said it planned to begin a search for Jackson’s successor in late 2021 or early 2022. Jackson’s contact said he could leave sooner if a new CEO was hired before that April date.

Some trade analysts at the moment mentioned the executive shuffle was a concern among investors, and a few administration specialists had been crucial that AutoNation was ready to start its search. But AutoNation mentioned the timing wasn’t proper for a search then due to the pandemic.

The outspoken Jackson, known for being a voice for dealers, particularly with regard to his criticism of stair-step incentive programs, will leave AutoNation after first joining the company as CEO in October 1999. He previously headed Mercedes-Benz USA — making the same leap from automaker executive to dealership group chief that Manley is now making.

Early in his tenure with AutoNation, Jackson moved quickly to close most of the retailer’s 29 AutoNation USA used-car megastores and convert the rest to new-car dealerships. He also killed plans for a national brand, though he kept the idea close and bided his time until the 2013 rollout of the AutoNation brand for all company dealerships, save for luxury-brand stores.

Jackson later extended that brand name to auctions, aftermarket parts and finance and insurance products, and he brought back AutoNation USA used-vehicle stores albeit with a smaller footprint and slower rollout than the retailer’s efforts in the late 1990s. Jackson also helped raise $28 million for cancer research and treatment through AutoNation’s Drive Pink initiative.

“I’ve all the time beloved Jackson’s blunt type, [and] his crystal ball when it comes to predictions on issues just like the [annual industry sales rate] tended to be very correct,” Whiston said.

AutoNation, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ranks No. 1 on Automotive News‘ record of the highest 150 dealership teams primarily based within the U.S., with retail gross sales of 249,654 new automobiles in 2020. It retailed 241,182 used automobiles for the identical interval, rating it No. 3 on Automotive News‘ record of the highest 100 used-vehicle retailers.