Magazine article Marketing

Profile: The Spirit of Turin - Giulio Salomone, Managing Director, Fiat UK

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: The Spirit of Turin - Giulio Salomone, Managing Director, Fiat UK

Article excerpt

If Giulio Salomone were a car, he would be a Fiat in all but one aspect. Both are Italian and stylish, but this son of Turin is more upmarket than the marque that promises beauty at a bargain price.

A Fiat lifer, Salomone has spent most of his career marketing motor financial services, from car loans to fleet hire. Much of his time has been spent at Fiat's Torinese headquarters, but he has served tours of duty in Belgium and Portugal, and been in his present role heading the UK operation since May 2005.

Having trained as a lawyer, he lacks what the industry calls a 'car guy' pedigree - a petrolhead or someone with an engineering background.

An acquaintance in the communications industry says his urbane charm and taste for expensive suits and fine dining 'may have been a decision to shrug off the boring finance-guy image and to grow the brand Giulio'.

A youthful-looking 45 with a jet-black mane, he has gained a reputation as a turnaround artist, helping to restore fleet sales in Fiat's crucial home market, which helps explain why he is in the UK.

'Salomone is well-connected at Fiat's headquarters,' says the acquaintance. 'He has support in the upper echelons in Turin, which is important in Italian companies with strong family control.'

To his surprise, the Italian courtier found he was overseeing Fiat UK from 'the lovely Slough'; though his accent remains heavily Italian, the sense of British irony is not lost.

Home - at least during the week - is the far more stylish South Kensington, and each weekend he commutes to and from Turin, where he lives with his wife and three children. Although Salomone enjoys living in England, he pines for the Italian cafe culture, and says popping out for a sandwich at lunchtime in the Slough Trading Estate is 'too depressing'.

Like its man in Slough, Fiat itself has effected something of a turnaround in its image. Between the turn of the century and 2004, the poor-selling Stilo nearly drove Fiat into the abyss. But the arrival of chief executive Sergio Marchionne transformed its fortunes and by 2006 Fiat was Europe's fastest-growing car manufacturer, taking share from the Koreans and French, and boasting the world's best-performing share price for an auto maker in 2006.

The UK was still Fiat's biggest torment when Salomone was parachuted in two years ago, but sales increased 64% in 2006 - albeit from a low base - and in the year to May 2007, Fiat's UK market share grew to 2. …

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