Some new faces have assumed key positions at Mazda in Europe for the start of the new fiscal year. With a number of internal appointments effective tomorrow, the carmaker intends to maintain the powerful momentum it currently has in Europe.

Bernhard Kaplan (42) takes over as managing director at Mazda Germany. Joining the company in 2000, Kaplan was most recently Mazda Germany’s sales director. He replaces Josef Schmid, who now retires. Schmid joined Mazda in 1973 and led the German organisation from 2009 onwards. Mazda Germany recorded an 18% year-on-year increase in unit sales during the first two months of 2016 and its best February since 2009, with the Mazda CX-3 and Mazda CX-5 SUVs making up more than half of the year-to-date turnover.

At Mazda Austria, Heimo Egger (43) is the new managing director. Previously director of Mazda’s South Eastern European (MSEE) markets, he comes to Mazda Austria after successfully developing the MSEE region. Egger succeeds Günther Kerle, who is retiring after 35 years at Mazda. Starting in the field and concluding as managing director is a clear testimony to the many key roles Kerle has played building the brand’s strong position in the Austrian market.

David McGonigle (46), recently director of Sales and Aftersales Operations at Mazda Motor Europe, replaces Egger as regional director of the newly renamed Mazda Central and South East Europe (MCSEE) region. McGonigle will be responsible for 17 national markets including as of tomorrow Poland, which adds a sales volume of almost 10,000 units to an increasingly important region. Together, these markets accounted for sales of 22,000 vehicles in 2015, up almost one-quarter over the previous year.

Finally, Mazda Europe is combining responsibility for sales and customer service under Vice President Sales Martijn ten Brink (43). Until now, customer service fell under the stewardship of Vice President Customer Service and Logistics Jorgen Olesen, who retires today.

“The sales and customer service departments have been working together more closely in recent years,” says ten Brink, now VP Sales and Customer Service. “We wish to reflect in our operations the ownership experience that customers have during the full life cycle of their interaction with us, be it with the manufacturer, Mazda dealerships or other service points. I’m looking forward to working with such an innovative team and continuing to enhance the customer experience.”

Mazda Europe posted a 41% year-to-date increase in vehicle sales to the end of February compared to the same period in 2015, matching the growth achieved in the last quarter of 2015. For the fiscal year ending today, the carmaker expects sales to have risen by 27% year-on-year.