Following a meeting of its supervisory board on Thursday, Volkswagen has announced that VW brand group manager Wolfgang Bernhard will leave the company at the end of January.

New group CEO Martin Winterkorn will take over Bernhard’s role in addition to his present duties.

In a statement, VW said:“Dr. Bernhard had furthered the process of restructuring of the company and hence increased the productivity of the Volkswagen brand.”

Bernhard’s departure follows a reorganisation of the group. Winterkorn has created three new group-wide positions aimed at generating more synergies between the brands.

A new group R&D role will be taken by Winterkorn himself, while Jochem Hiezmann, currently Audi production chief, will be group head of production. The third position is group head of sales. A decision on who will fill that role will be made later. In the meantime, the brand heads will be responsible for sales.

Bernhard had reportedly been offered the position of group head of production but had declined on the grounds that his contract was specifically for head of the Volkswagen brand. A close ally of former CEO, Bernd Pischetsrieder, relations between Winterkorn and Bernhard had been described in recent press reports as “cool”.

Other new appointments include Stephan Grühsem, who will become the new group head of communications – he was formally head of corporate communications at Audi – and Ulrich Hackenberg, who has been named head of development for the Volkswagen brand, a role formerly filled by Bernhard. Hackenberg was previously head of development, electronics and electrics at Audi.