For the second time this year, a veteran BMW executive is moving to automotive retail.
Petter Witt, 42, is joining Holman Automotive Group Inc. as platform vice president for the Northeast, a media release said. Holman, in Maple Shade, N.J., has 38 franchises selling 17 brands.
Witt, who joined BMW North America in 1999, has served as executive vice president of operations, responsible for all of BMW’s U.S. sales operations, since May. His departure from BMW was reported Thursday. He was profiled as an Automotive News Rising Star in 2015.
“His wealth of experience in the retail automotive sector combined with his global perspective of the automotive industry will bring tremendous value,” said Brian Bates, CEO of Holman Consumer Services in a statement. “I could not imagine a better fit.”
Move to retail
Witt hails from Philadelphia. He will oversee Holman’s 10 stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with the general managers of those stores reporting to him. He will report to Gene Welsh, Holman’s executive vice president.
While at BMW, Witt held several leadership positions. He worked in Munich as sales director for Africa, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. In 2013, he became the managing director of BMW Sweden, and returned to the U.S. in 2014 to serve as regional vice president of the Western region for BMW of North America. During that time, the Western Region became the largest market in the U.S. for the first time since 2006.
Witt’s move into retail follows that of former BMW executive Ed Robinson. As previously reported, Robinson became Midwestern Auto Group’s CEO on Jan. 9.
Robinson, 62, retired as CEO of BMW Group Financial Services for the Americas on Dec. 31. Robinson wanted to work in retail because the rapid evolution there, he said at the time, citing technology and ride sharing, among other challenges.
Last April, Holman acquired Kuni Automotive, of Vancouver, Wash., to form one of the country’s largest private dealership groups.
At the time of the acquisition, the new group was projected to have annual revenue of about $3 billion with 33 dealerships in eight states, most along the East Coast and West Coast. Holman had dealerships in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida. Kuni had stores in Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado and Kansas.
Holman ranked No. 51 on Automotive News’ list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with retail sales of 18,604 new vehicles in 2015. Kuni ranked No. 63 with retail sales of 15,163 new vehicles in 2015. Combined, the groups retailed 33,767 new vehicles last year, which would have been good for 16th on the list, ahead of Herb Chambers Cos., of Somerville, Mass., and behind Suburban Collection, of Troy, Mich.