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DT Dobie chief Middleton resigns

Ian Middleton
DT Dobie managing director Ian Middleton with an employee during a past event in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

DT Dobie managing director Ian Middleton Tuesday resigned abruptly, leaving the owner of the Mercedes motor vehicle franchise to search for a new leader.

Sources familiar with the matter told the Business Daily that Mr Middleton, a British citizen, left ahead of the end of his term. The company is yet to announce a permanent or a temporary replacement, the sources said.

Mr Middleton was hired in July 2017 to take over from former long-serving managing director Zarak Khan. His departure comes at a time when DT Dobie is facing sales decline brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, compounding the impact of losing the lucrative Nissan franchise in 2014.

The company in April announced it was retrenching some of its employees, adding that the decision was made before the coronavirus outbreak.

“This is to notify you that the management has been reviewing the performance of the company for the last 15 months and evidently there is a continuous reduction of business for the company,” said DT Dobie in the April redundancy notice.

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“There are many reasons for this: the overall Kenyan economy over the past year, restrictions of parts importation and internally to loss of Nissan as a brand and the resultant reduction in servicing Nissan vehicles.”

DT Dobie sold 238 units across its Mercedes, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Greatwall vehicle franchises in the five months ended May, according to data from the Kenya Motor Industry Association.

This is down from 230 vehicles sold by the dealer in the comparable period last year.

Nissan used to account for two-thirds of DT Dobie’s annual unit sales.

The manufacturer of Nissan vehicles, Renault Nissan Group, terminated DT Dobie’s dealership after the company was acquired by affiliates of rival automaker Toyota Motor Corporation.

New vehicle dealers’ sales are expected to decline sharply this year on the Covid-19 pandemic and measures taken to combat it including travel restrictions.

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