The managing director of Nissan’s car plant in Sunderland, John Cushnaghan, has decided to take early retirement following the launch of the new Micra.

Cushnaghan will remain at Nissan Motor Mfg. (UK) Ltd (NMUK) until 1 May 2003 to ensure the smooth hand over of responsibilities to his successor, Deputy MD Colin Dodge. Dodge will take up his new position as MD on 1 April 2003.

Cushnaghan, 57, joined Nissan in 1984 as Production Director and became Managing Director in 1999.

Nissan said in a statement that under his guidance, NMUK consolidated its position as the most productive car plant in Europe, an accolade it has held since 1996. The plant has also been the UK’s largest car producer since 1999.

Colin Dodge, 47, who takes over from John in April, is one of NMUK’s longest serving members of staff, having joined the plant in 1984 as Paint Shop Manager. A series of promotions led to his appointment as Deputy MD in 2000.

Nissan said that in 2003 the plant ‘could increase its total volume to around 350,000 Micras, Almeras and Primeras, setting new productivity records for NMUK’.

Dodge is also currently the Vice President of Nissan’s European Supply Chain Management, a post he relinquishes on 31 March. John Griffiths who is currently Director of Production Control at NMUK will succeed him in this role.