BMW has appointed its first Briton to the board.

Ian Robertson, chairman and chief executive of Rolls-Royce cars, has been named board member responsible for sales and marketing and takes up his new post in Munich with immediate effect.

It is very rare for a non-German to sit on the board of BMW and Robertson described his appointment "as a great honour".

Speaking on the eve of BMW's annual accounts press conference, Robertson added: "The first thing I am going to have to do is brush up on my German. I think board meetings might be a mixture of the two languages."

Robertson, former managing director of Land Rover in the UK and BMW South Africa, will remain as chairman of Rolls-Royce and a new chief executive is expected to be appointed soon.

While he said it was too early to talk about his new role, his appointment was made only made last Thursday (13 March), he was able to report a successful year for Rolls-Royce.

It sold 1,010 cars globally, in 2007, compared with 805 the previous year, achieving four-figure annual sales volume for the first time.

Despite economic worries worldwide, Robertson said he was confident for the future of Rolls-Royce.

"We are seeing a lot of growth in terms of sales in China and while the Russian market is also growing, we actually sell to Russians all over the world.

"I don't see any adverse effect on sales in terms of the credit crunch or in terms or the environment. Our customers are confident individuals and very much their own people."