In an effort to revive its flagging Maserati brand, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has recruited Davide Grasso, former CEO of Nike’s Converse sports-shoe brand, as chief operating officer for the luxury-car unit.
Grasso will bring a “wealth of brand expertise” to Maserati, FCA CEO Mike Manley said in a statement.
Grasso is a marketing expert who drove growth at Converse. His previous experience includes chief marketing officer for the Nike brand.
Grasso also is appointed to FCA’s Group Executive Council, the statement said.
Maserati’s current COO, Harald Wester, will become the brand’s executive chairman, overseeing all technical and industrial areas. Wester is also FCA’s chief technical officer and in this area, his responsibilities will expand to include global powertrain along with global vehicle engineering for the FCA group.
Grasso and Wester will build on the work that’s already underway “to rejuvenate Maserati worldwide,” Manley said in the statement.
FCA’s business plan aims to increase Maserati’s annual sales to 100,000 by 2022, helped by the launch of new models including a midsize SUV and the Alfieri coupe and cabriolet.
Maserati’s shipments fell 41 percent to 5,500 in the first three months due to “inventory management actions,” FCA said in its first-quarter financial report. Last year, Maserati shipped 35,900 cars, down from 51,500 in 2017.
Manley told investors in the Q1 report that FCA is carrying out an “aggressive focus” on Maserati’s distribution network and marketing.
After being appointed FCA CEO, Manley reversed FCA’s decision to bundle Maserati with its Alfa Romeo marque under a single leader.
This was a mistake because it reduced the focus on the Maserati brand and led to the unit being treated “almost as if it were a mass-market brand,” Manley told analysts on FCA’s third-quarter earnings call in October.