Renault revamps brand set-up under new CEO De Meo

PARIS, Sept 3 (Reuters) - France’s Renault said on Thursday it was moving to a new organisational set-up focused on core brands rather than geographies, in the first move by new Chief Executive Luca de Meo to shake up the loss-making carmaker.

Renault, which took aid in the form of a state-backed loan from the French government this year, is trying to recover from the coronavirus pandemic while also patching up a strained relationship with Japanese partner Nissan.

De Meo, who used to run competitor’s Volkswagen’s Seat brand, joined in July to try and reboot the French group, which had already embarked on cost cuts and a redundancy plan.

The company said in a statement it would now be organised around the Renault brand, which will be directly supervised by De Meo, with separate divisions for its Dacia range and its Alpine sports cars.

It said a fourth division would focus on “new mobilities”, at a time when rivals are also exploring avenues like car-sharing schemes.

Renault had already outlined plans to move away from the volume-driven strategy it had once prioritised under former boss Carlos Ghosn, with more of a focus on profitable models.

De Meo, who in a previous role at Fiat had relaunched the Italian carmaker’s signature 500 model, said this week that the Renault brand in particular had to move away from small, cheaper passenger cars.

“The centre of gravity of the Renault brand has to be more upmarket,” he was quoted as saying in an interview with France’s Le Point magazine.

De Meo, who told Le Point it was unclear when Renault might return to profit, said he was working with the design team to revamp some models, and that the Alpine could be reimagined beyond its retro style. (Reporting by Sarah White and Gilles Guillaume; editing by John Stonestreet)