Paul Philpott, currently chief operating officer of Kia Motors Europe in Frankfurt is returning to become president and chief executive officer of Kia Motors UK and Ireland – the first time a non-Korean has been appointed to such a role at any KIA subsidiary in Europe.

Philpott, 45, was managing director at Kia Motors (UK) Limited from 2007 until he moved to Frankfurt in 2009 and will return to the Weybridge base from 1 July.

“The move comes as part of Kia’s plan to strengthen its global representation and management in individual markets as part of its plan for the further development of its global activities,” the Hyundai Motor affiliate said in a statement.

Brandon Yea, president of Kia Motors Europe. said: “The Kia brand is now Europe’s fastest growing thanks to Paul Philpott and he knows very well that we are determined to strengthen local management at all our subsidiary companies in order to become a truly global automotive organisation.

“This promotion is putting an individual with specific local expertise into a role that we have previously filled from headquarters in Korea – as we have developed our operations around the world. Now is the right time – in our best performing market in Europe – to change our strategic focus and I cannot think of anyone better than Paul to take on this duty.”

Philpott initially spent 12 months in the financial sector before joining Ford in 1988. After nine years in UK sales and marketing, he moved to Toyota as general manager of marketing.

He was appointed marketing director in 1999 and in 2003 became commercial director with responsibility for all of Toyota’s commercial operations in the UK before moving to Kia.