Renault is one of the leading car and light commercial vehicle brands in Western Europe, but until comparatively recently it had only a minimal presence outside that region. However, in a few key deals during the two decades from 1999, Renault transformed itself into a global force with substantial operations in Asia and a foothold in North America. Where once there was only the Renault brand, the group now controls Japanese marque Nissan via a 43% shareholding, as well as Dacia in Eastern Europe and Samsung Motors in Korea. In 2007, the group also agreed an important strategic partnership with Russian manufacturer AvtoVaz, which gave Renault effective management control of the widely known Lada car brand. It further bolstered its footprint by taking control of another Japanese manufacturer, Mitsubishi Motors, in 2015. High performance racing and sports car brand Alpine was reintroduced in 2017. Yet much of the group's progress was threatened in 2019 after Japanese authorities arrested Carlos Ghosn, architect of Renault's expansion and its alliance with Nissan, on charges of financial misconduct. As Ghosn languished in jail awaiting trial, Renault was forced to jettison its charismatic leader. In the following months, the attempts to rebuild its badly fractured relationship with Nissan cost the job of Ghosn's immediate successor Thierry Bolloré as well as an alternative alliance with Fiat Chrysler (who agreed to merge with rival PSA instead). Luca De Meo joined the group in July 2020 as CEO. Performance has been undercut in recent years by weakness at Nissan, and in 2020 by the impact of Covid. Revenues for the latter year plunged from €55.5bn in 2019 to €43.5bn, while net income plunged to a new loss of €8.0bn. Registrations fell from 3.75m vehicles in 2019 to 2.95m for 2020. Renault remains heavily dependent on Europe in general and France in particular. Its only presence in North America is via Nissan, and its profile in China - through joint ventures with Dongfeng Motors and Brilliance - remains low. It is most active there with light commercial vehicles under the Jinbei and Huasong brands. In 2020, the core Renault brand registered a total of 1.85m vehicles, according to market-watcher Focus2Move. Its best-seller was the Clio, accounting for 358k units, followed by the Captur (204k) and Megane (164k). Dacia contributed a further 540k passenger cars (lead by the Duster and Sandero at 193k and 183k respectively), Lada 385k cars and vans and Renault Samsung 90k. France is the group's biggest market by far, accounting for almost two-thirds of revenues, and nearly a fifth of volumes: 536k vehicles in 2020. Renault is the best-selling brand in the domestic market, though rival PSA's combined volumes are higher. The next biggest markets by volumes are Russia (481k) and Germany (205k).
Capsule checked 25th November 2021
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Adbrands Update 16th May 2022: Two major global marketers have taken further steps to withdraw altogether from Russia. Having already suspended operations there, McDonald's will now exit Russia altogether. It has agreed to sell all its outlets to one of its local licensees Alexander Govor, who plans to reopen them under a new name. In a statement, the fast food giant said "The humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment, have led McDonald's to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald's values." The company has said it will ensure that staff continue to be paid up to completion of the sale. The group will write off around $1.4bn against the disposal. Meanwhile, Renault, controlling shareholder in Russia's biggest car manufacturer Avtovaz, has agreed to sell its 68% stake to Moscow's local government and the state-controlled organisation NAMI - the Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engines Institute. The sale price was reportedly one rouble. Renault said the cost of writing off that business will amount to around €2.2bn. In a significant footnote to its announcement, Renault said it has retained a six-year option to buy back its interest in the business.
Marketer Moves 11th May 2022: New COO at Renault brand. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Update 24th Mar 2022: Nestlé and Renault, two of the last Western companies to have continued working in Russia in apparent defiance of pressure from their peers, their investors and customers, finally agreed to suspend some or all operations. Nestlé has stopped production and sales of non-essential items, including coffee, confectionery and most pet food. "As the war continues in Ukraine, our activities in Russia will focus on providing essential food, such as infant food and medical/hospital nutrition – not on making a profit," it announced in a statement. "We do not expect to make a profit in the country or pay any related taxes for the foreseeable future in Russia. If any profit is made, it will be donated in its entirety to humanitarian relief organisations." Renault, which markets the Renault and Dacia brands in Russia and also has a controlling stake in local car manufacturer Avtovaz, said it has suspended activities at its main factory in Moscow and is "assessing the available options" for Avtovaz "while acting responsibly towards its 45,000 employees in Russia".
Marketer Moves 25th Jan 2022: New SVP Light Commercial Vehicles at Renault. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 27th Aug 2020: "The Next Chapter of a Great Story". Inspired perhaps by the superb extended film released earlier this year by Publicis.Poke in the UK for the local Renault business, Publicis Conseil has also taken the leap into long-form life stories for their lead auto client. The subject matter is rather less controversial - you may remember that the UK film was a sweet tale of the developing love affair between two girls who first meet on a UK/France exchange programme. This film takes a more conventional route - a tale of the family bonds between a single-parent mother and her son over the space of 30 years - but it's no less emotionally rich and affecting. Much of the credit goes to the strong performance of the lead actress, who gives rich and fully rounded life to an otherwise rather stock character. Another intriguing element is the unexpected setting: not as you might expect France, but Sweden (for no apparent reason). In case you were wondering, Slakthusomradet, where part of the film is set, is an industrial area on the outskirts of Stockholm, originally the city's meat packing district. Fine soundtrack choice too: 'A Caged Bird-Imitations of Life' by the Cinematic Orchestra, featuring Roots Manuva.
Adbrands Daily Update 17th Mar 2020: Auto manufacturers across Europe have begun to shut down production to reduce the spread of coronavirus. PSA Groupe and Fiat Chrysler announced the suspension of all manufacturing in the region, while Renault shut all 12 of its French factories and Volkswagen shuttered plants in the worst hit countries of Italy and Spain. Ford and Nissan also closed some operations in Europe, mainly in Spain.
Adbrands Daily Update 29th Jan 2020: As had been rumoured for several days, Renault confirmed former Volkswagen Group executive Luca de Meo as its new CEO. De Meo is widely regarded as one of the industry's rising stars. He oversaw a dramatic recovery in the performance of Volkswagen's Seat subsidiary over the past four years, and was previously VW's global marketing chief. Before that he worked wonders at Fiat, not least through the spectacular relaunch of the Fiat 500. However, VW is holding him to a lnegthy non-compete clause. He won't be able to take up his new role until July. Interim CEO Clotilde Delbos continues until then, and will become deputy CEO in July.
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