Archive : George Turnbull resigns

Resignation of Mr Turnbull from BLMC prompts major reshuffle
By Christopher Wilkins.

George Turnbull at Cowley
George Turnbull at Cowley

Mr George Turnbull has resigned as managing director of British Leyland “by mutual consent”, prompting a major reorganization of top positions within the corporation. His resignation comes. only a week after that of Mr Filmer Paradise, the colourful director of sales at Austin Morris, arid leaves Mr John Barber, the deputy chairman, as the undisputed number two to Lord Stokes, the chairman.

Mr Barber has now taken on the managing directorship in addition to his other responsibilities. There had been little secret of the rivalry between Mr Turnbull and Mr Barber in recent months. Mr Turnbull had earned a formidable reputation within the motor industry after he had turned round the Austin Morris division, from heavy losses to profits and had supervised huge factory reorganization and the introduction of a new model policy.

In May this year he was appointed managing director of the corporation, but it was Mr Barber who began to emerge as the likely successor to Lord Stokes. He was appointed deputy chief executive and executive deputy chairman and Mr Turnbull became immediately responsible to him.

The announcement of the reshuffle came too late last night to have any effect on British Leyland’s share price which, at 24p, is close to its year’s low after falling heavily throughout the summer against a background of persistent labour unrest. At this level the shares are below their par value of 25p.

With the departure of Mr Turnbull who first joined the Standard Motor Company as an apprentice in 1947, Mr Bill Davis has been appointed to the main board in the newly created position of director of manufacturing. Formerly managing director of the Rover Triumph division, he will be responsible for worldwide manufacturing activities and for the volume manufacturing divisions which takes in the power and transmission division and the body and assembly division. New emphasis is also being placed on corporate purchasing activities.

Mr A. T. Walling, who has been in charge of purchasing at Austin Morris since 1967, has now been given responsibility for all the corporation’s buying.

The reason given by British Leyland yesterday for Mr Turnbull’s departure was that he has disagreed with the principle of some of the changes which the board considers essential for the future development of the corporation. Commenting on the changes, Lord Stokes said: “The biggest single problem we have at British Leyland today is to make sufficiently large quantities of our attractive range of products to supply unprecedented demand at home and overseas.

“The board is confident that the changes we are implementing will put us in a better position to tackle these problems by raising the status of the manufacturing activity and concentrating top level attention on it. By reducing the size and complexity of units within the corporation and at the same time reducing the numbers of levels of management and staffs we shall also improve communications and speed up management processes. We shall also be able to achieve more of the economies of scale which were a major objective of the formation of British Leyland. Naturally I am sorry that George Turnbull, who has made a considerable contribution to the build up of British Leyland, will not be with us in this new and exciting stage of our development.”

Two other major appointments have resulted from the reshuffle.
Mr Dick Perry, who is 43, has been made managing director of Austin Morris, which has now become a product division, responsible for planning, designing and marketing its own products. He was formerly the managing director of the power and transmission division.

Replacing Mr Davis at Rover Triumph is 58-year-old Mr Bernard Jackman, previously the director of manufacturing at Rover Triumph.

The remaining appointments are: Mr David Andrews, formerly the finance director of Austin Morris, who becomes managing director of the power and transmission division; Mr Gerry Minch, director of service for Austin Morris who now becomes director of product quality for the corporation, a new post; Mr Allen Sheppard who moves up from managing director (Europe) to become managing director of the service parts division; Mr F. R. W. England, who takes over as chairman of Jaguar, and Mr Geoffrey Robinson who becomes Jaguar’s managing director and chief executive. Jaguar is now taking over control of Vanden Plas, which produces the Dairnler Vanden Plas Double Six and the Daimler Limousine.

Keith Adams

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