Driven - - In My Garage - Re­port by ROGER McCLEERY | Im­ages © PCSA

An ex­cit­ing new chap­ter has started at Peu­geot/Citroën South Africa. For the first time, Peu­geot in South Africa will be op­er­at­ing with a new lo­cal man­age­ment team as part of a strat­egy to trans­form the brand. A new 3008 SUV with a Euro­pean Car of the Year 2017 ti­tle be­hind its name has just been launched with more mod­els to come to join the range. A 2008 SUV was launched re­cently.

A young multi-tal­ented Fran­cisco Gaie, (33) has taken over with a new team as Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor. He comes with a wealth of mo­tor in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence.

Fran­cisco was born in Pre­to­ria and re­ceived his ed­u­ca­tion at Cen­tu­rion High School where he was an avid crick­eter and rugby player, and ma­tric­u­lated in 2002. Af­ter ma­tric­u­lat­ing, Fran­cisco was quite un­de­cided what to do as a ca­reer, and while he fan­cied a life as an IT spe­cial­ist, he de­cided to take a gap year af­ter school and trav­elled to Eng­land.

Fran­cisco re­mem­bers the se­vere win­ters in Lon­don, mainly as his money quickly ran out and he “ex­isted on a tin of baked beans a day” and needed a job. His first mon­ey­mak­ing ac­tiv­ity was paint­ing the out­side of a house for four weeks in the cold, be­fore he even­tu­ally found a dif­fer­ent job as a se­cu­rity guard.

Ul­ti­mately, this led Fran­cisco to join the Lon­don Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice, which he was al­lowed to do, thanks to his dual cit­i­zen­ship be­tween South Africa and Por­tu­gal. Af­ter com­plet­ing his train­ing at the Po­lice Col­lege, he served in the East End of Lon­don, work­ing the night shift as a Bobby on the beat. This ex­pe­ri­ence, reck­ons Fran­cisco, had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on his view of the world, par­tic­u­larly as he was just 20 years old at the time.

Af­ter six years in the po­lice, it was time to come back home to South Africa, and time to take up for­mal stud­ies, thought Fran­cisco, if he was to make any­thing of his life.

Off he went to the Uni­ver­sity of Pre­to­ria where Fran­cisco qual­i­fied with a B.Com Law de­gree which he ob­tained Cum Laude af­ter three years. The high­light, study­ing at Tuks, was meet­ing his wife to be– Rozellee. By com­plet­ing his law de­gree with such dis­tinc­tion, Fran­cisco at­tained a bur­sary to com­plete a B.Com Hon­ours de­gree in eco­nom­ics at the Uni­ver­sity of Stel­len­bosch.

Armed with a glit­ter­ing ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion, Fran­cisco re­turned to Pre­to­ria in 2012, when he was in­tro­duced to JeanPierre Go­bel, CEO of the Trust Auto Group, which spe­cialises in the au­to­mo­tive re­tail sec­tor. As the Group Fi­nan­cial As­sis­tant in the Trust Auto Group (part of the VT Group in Ja­pan), Fran­cisco’s job was to sort out the dealer or­gan­i­sa­tion and op­er­a­tions. Through this po­si­tion, he got to know the mo­tor in­dus­try in South Africa in­ti­mately – right at the coal­face.

One of Fran­cisco’s pas­sions at the time was mo­tor­cy­cles and mo­tor­cy­cling, which has had to take a back seat for the time be­ing.

In 2014 a Ja­panese mem­ber of the VT Board (Verno Tokai) sent Fran­cisco to Nagoya in Ja­pan for three months to ob­serve first hand how the busi­ness op­er­ated in its home coun­try. He re­turned to South Africa as COO of the Trust Auto Group, which op­er­ates a num­ber of Suzuki, Fiat, Alfa, and Peu­geot mo­tor deal­ers in South Africa.

At the end of 2016, VT ne­go­ti­ated with Peu­geot in France to take over the lo­cal Peu­geot op­er­a­tion in South Africa. Now armed with ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in mo­tor re­tail and an in­ti­mate un­der­stand­ing of the in­tri­ca­cies of the VT op­er­at­ing model, Fran­cisco was ap­pointed CEO of the group in June 2017, with their main thrust now trained on the Peu­geot brand.

Plans for the near fu­ture are to grow and strengthen the brand image of the French com­pany, which is the sec­ond big­gest pro­ducer of ve­hi­cles in Europe. Im­prov­ing cus­tomer care and ser­vice is also high on Fran­cisco’s list of pri­or­i­ties, as is re­duc­ing the cost of parts, and ul­ti­mately lower driv­ing costs for Peu­geot cus­tomers.

Grow­ing the com­mer­cial side of the busi­ness with Partner and Boxer mod­els is also on the agenda.

For now, Fran­cisco wants to keep the Peu­geot dealer or­gan­i­sa­tion sta­ble, although the plan is to in­crease fu­ture rep­re­sen­ta­tion from the cur­rent 25 deal­ers to around 30 deal­ers.

Fran­cisco has been a car fan all his life. His all-time favourite over the years– which made a big im­pres­sion on him as a boy – was a Kar­man Ghia.

Nat­u­rally, Fran­cisco drives the top of the range 3008 Peu­geot. About to start a fam­ily to­gether, he and his wife are choos­ing a car from the Peu­geot range to carry their ex­pected new ad­di­tion to the fam­ily.

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