Blog: Dave LeggettWho's doing the talking?

Dave Leggett | 10 February 2009

I paid a flying visit to a rainy southern Austria (stayed in Villach's Holiday Inn) at the end of last week and interviewed Ian Robertson, BMW's head of sales and marketing. Nice to see some mountains, even if they were generally shrouded in cloud, rain and mist.

Mr Robertson was pretty upbeat about the business outlook and - to some extent - that's to be expected. If your job is to sell as many cars as possible, you are perhaps naturally going to be looking for the upside, seeking out opportunities. To be fair, he wasn't crazily optimistic and did stress that these are difficult times, that there are big challenges ahead for all, including BMW. But his glass was definitely half-full rather than half-empty and sometimes that is actually something that is refreshing to hear - a positive take on things.

I think I agree with him that there's a danger of people getting a little carried away with the doom and gloom at this stage in the economic cycle (but that's not to be casual about the adjustment taking place; most certainly not). And it was interesting to hear him enthuse about scrappage incentives - measures that have traditionally favoured small car makers in Europe.

By way of contrast, I see PSA's Streiff has gone the other way. He's been talking about a 'worldwide catastrophe' in the auto industry. But he was being interviewed yesterday having just signed a deal to get aid from the French government. That's maybe not a time to come over all bullish and positive about prospects. He was probably in 'begging bowl mode'.

As ever, it's not just what people say that's important. You have to look at who they are, what their responsibilities are and the context in which the remarks are being made.

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