NEW BOSS ON THE BEAT
FRANCISCO GAIE: MD OF PEUGEOT CITROËN SOUTH AFRICA
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.