Piaggio Cuts Sales and Marketing Staff

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Reduced unit sales of scooters in 2009 forced Piaggio USA to cut several top level managers in its sales operation and flatten out its sales staff, says Paolo Timoni, president and CEO of Piaggio’s US operations.

Noting that industry-wide U.S. scooter sales were down about 65 percent last year, Timoni says that steps had to be taken to balance revenue and costs. “We don’t expect 2010 sales to go back to 2008 numbers,” he says. So, it was cut either sales or dealer services.

“Given our priorities for 2010 and 2011,” Timoni says, “ we concluded it was a priority for us to maintain our service capabilities (to dealers) as much as possible, because we think this is what dealers need. Probably, we could get with a smaller sales organization, since there wouldn’t be that much sales, right? Therefore, we basically reduced the size of our sales organization.”

The position of vice president of sales and marketing has been eliminated and the former head of sales and marketing, Gary Pietruszewski, has been let go. The marketing management functions now will be handled by three managers, who report to Timoni. “It’s a much flatter management structure,” he says.

Melissa MacCall is responsible for marketing, Internet activities, promotions and co-marketing activities. Kevin Andrews is brand manager for Piaggio and Vespa, and Rick Panettieri is brand manager for Aprilia and Moto Guzzi.

At the same, the number of regional sales directors was cut from three to two, and three regional sales directors were dropped, reducing the number of sales directors from 10 to seven.

“We have great opportunity here,” says Timoni. “You notice we didn’t touch our service organization. We thought that would be the best investment we could make now, and we hope dealers appreciate that basically all the infrastructure and organization to support and service them has been untouched. That’s our strategy.”

No other changes are planned for the time being. “That’s all there is,” says Timoni.