We recently had the chance to sit down with Graeme Grieve, Managing Director for BMW Group UK and Ireland. Educated at the University of Central Lancashire, Graeme joined BMW UK in 1990 and has since held several positions including Sales Director and subsequently Global Sales and Marketing Director for Rolls-Royce; he then moved to Munich in 2009 to be in charge of the BMW Group importer business. Graeme took up his current position of Managing Director in October 2014.
As Managing Director for BMW Group UK and Ireland, what is your primary focus?
The key focus is balancing the objectives of BMW Group with the opportunities available in the UK marketplace, while keeping our retail partners engaged and motivated to deliver sales and customer satisfaction. If this all works then we make money, our customers are happy and we have some fun.
How did you come about working for BMW? Have you worked for any other car brands?
I started working with BMW in 1990 after a few years working in the chemical industry in polymer research and market development. I’ve always been a fan of cars and motorcycles, so having the chance to work on the BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brands is a dream for me – I’ve never thought of working for another automotive group!
What is it about the BMW brand that inspires you?
The prestige and image of the brand is very much driven by the products. We have made some amazing cars and motorcycles over the last 100 years. Every time I drive or ride one of our vehicles it reinforces just how great our cars and motorcycles are, whether it’s a classic 328 or our latest generation 7 Series. It is also exciting to see how our new products develop from a design image into a full-scale product car. We have many very talented designers and engineers so you always learn a lot when you spend time with them.
What does a typical day at BMW entail for you?
There really aren’t many average days, but there are some common elements like meetings, emails and liaison with our colleagues in Munich. But I also get the chance to spend a lot of time with our retailers and customers to make sure I am fully in touch with how our business develops and what our customers think. These contacts play a big part in how our strategy develops.
What do you think are the biggest challenges that you will face over the next 12 months?
The UK economy is very resilient but we are in a period of uncertainty in how the negotiations progress towards Brexit. Our organisation has a highly integrated production and distribution network between the UK and Europe, so we will have some work to do to ensure we maintain our efficiency and the service levels to our customers.
You’ve been working for BMW Group since 1990. What has kept you here, and how has the company changed over the years?
Our product range has increased massively in my 27 years with the company, as has the volume of sales and numbers of customers, so I’ve seen the company go from strength to strength, and being part of this success story is energising. I also get a lot of satisfaction from seeing how our team has developed into new areas of technology and business.
In 2009 you moved to work for BMW in Munich. What was it like moving to Munich? Was it a big culture shock?
It was a really exciting time for me and my family. Munich is a lovely city and it was an adventure for us all. We all developed close friendships that we still have today, so much so that our last family holiday was in Munich. I also had a great job working with a region of over 90 countries in South America, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia, so I learned a lot about culture and business around the world and met some fascinating people.
Which is your favourite BMW, past or present?
It’s impossible to name just one. If I could find the space and money, I would have a classic 328, an E39 M5, my current 750i and a R1200GS Rallye Sport. I know it’s a cheat but I would also have to fit in a MINI GP2.
Thank you to Graeme for taking the time to speak to us.
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