Juergen Stackmann

The Volkswagen Group has appointed Juergen Stackmann as head of SEAT, replacing Englishman James Muir. Stackmann, 51, will become SEAT’s chairman effective May 1, having been Skoda‘s sales and marketing head since he joined the Group in 2010.

According to Automotive News Europe, SEAT is the only money-losing unit in the VW Group. Severely affected by the Continent’s financial crisis, its global sales dropped 8.3% to 321,000 units last year, while sales in its home market fell a considerable 13% in the same period.

There’s been a slight improvement so far this year, though – in the first quarter, SEAT’s global sales jumped 9% to 87,100 units. ANE cites market growths of 27% in Germany and 8% in Mexico as contributing factors.

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The Spanish brand’s Martorell facility has been operating under-capacity for some time – in a bid to boost output, VW moved Audi Q3 production there in 2011. New SEAT models (like the Toledo and Leon, pictured) and the brand’s entrance into China has helped somewhat, but clearly more needs to be done.

Stackmann, a German, began his career with Ford in 1989, holding various posts in Germany and the UK before joining the VW Group in 2010. During his tenure as Skoda’s sales and marketing boss, the Czech company boosted 2011 sales by 15% to 879,200 units, and 2012 sales by 7% to 939,200 units. Will he be able to work his magic on SEAT?