Aston Martin is reportedly reaching out to candidates to replace Amedeo Felisa as the company’s chief executive officer, potentially setting the business up to have its fourth CEO in four years. Felisa has headed the UK-based automaker since May of 2022 and inherited a situation where the business was already taking on sizable amounts of debt annually.
The company’s share price has also been trending downward since 2018, though it has remained mostly flat since October of 2022.
Management reported £1.1 billion in revenue in 2018. But it had dropped to just £612 million by the end of 2020. In December 2022, that figure had come back up to £1.4 — making it seem as though the hard times were the result of economic issues created via the global response to COVID-19. However, Aston Martin failed to turn this into profitability and was staking sustained losses, which included taking on £495 million in debt for 2022.
The company attributed the loss to global supply chain troubles and the fact that it had been spending big on new models, including some all-electric vehicles. By November of 2023, Aston Martin reported an adjusted operating loss of £48.4 million for its Q3 results and a net revenue of £362 million. While the company signaled this as a turnaround for the brand, it still ended the quarter rolling back sales estimates and confirmed negative cash flow of £78.5 million. Some of the newer models weren’t selling at target volumes and the company suggested an equity raise could take place early in 2024.
From the looks of things, Aston has managed to solve some problems while others manifest and has ultimately had to temper shareholder expectations. The current hope seems to be that the brand’s newer products will see improved sales as production ramps up. But the fact that it’s hunting for a new CEO would seem to indicate the plan isn’t universally appreciated. That said, Felisa is now 77 and may be seeking retirement. However, even if that’s not the case, it’s likely that’ll be the excuse given when the management change takes place.
Executive Chairman Lawrence Stroll has already “cycled through” CEOs, according to reporting from Bloomberg:
Executive Chairman Lawrence Stroll has contacted current and former heads of other luxury auto manufacturers to gauge interest in the role, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the conversations were private.
An Aston Martin spokesperson declined to comment. The company’s shares dropped as much as 4 [percent] as of 12:25 p.m. Tuesday in London. The stock has slumped 54 [percent] since the end of July.
Stroll, 64, tapped Felisa to be CEO in May 2022, replacing former Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers, who spent less than two years in the job. His predecessor, Andy Palmer, left months after Stroll rescued Aston Martin in early 2020.
Aston Martin’s search is no surprise given that Felisa — who initially retired from Ferrari NV in 2016 — was “always a temporary solution,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Michael Dean said in a report.
While its share price took a dive in 2018, Stroll reeled in new investors and even brought the Aston Martin name back to Formula One (as a distinct entity) after a 61-year absence. However, some of the new shareholders that have emerged since 2022 have been somewhat controversial. Entities like Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group have deep pockets. But critics have wondered how wise it is to join with them when global tensions appear to be growing.
Some have even faulted Stroll with mismanagement, often citing Aston Martin’s rotating list of CEOs as evidence. However, Stroll didn’t take leadership until after the company’s financial issues reached a breaking point in 2020. It hardly seems fair to place full ownership of the corporate woes upon his shoulders.
His father, Leo Strulovitch, imported European luxury brands (e.g. Pierre Cardin and Ralph Lauren) into Canada before Lawrence took over the business. He then worked with Asian investors to expand Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors worldwide. Nepotism aside, Stroll’s background in luxury goods seemed like a good fit for Aston Martin.
Sadly, it doesn’t appear to have been enough to solve the automaker’s many problems. For 2024, Aston Martin has already tempered delivery estimates on the DB12 and has more recently been hinting that could be the case for its entire lineup, even if it doesn’t blame suppliers this time around.
“The DB12 production ramp up was temporarily affected as supplier readiness and integration of the new EE platform that supports the fully redeveloped infotainment system was delayed,” Aston Martin said in its earnings report from November.
The company has declined to comment on any prospective management shakeup. But it’s also going to have to release another financial report soon that will outline the entirety of 2023. Depending on how that goes, the business may be forced into explaining the matter while it outlines what it’s going to do about its finances moving forward.
[Image: Aston Martin]
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