BUSINESS

GM Korea to seek support from employees amid exit rumors

By Yonhap
  • Published : Nov 6, 2017 - 10:19
  • Updated : Nov 6, 2017 - 10:19

The head of General Motors Co.'s South Korean operations will meet employees and dealerships this month in an effort to seek their support to cope with declining sales and rumors that the carmaker may withdraw from the country, the company said Monday.

GM Korea President and Chief Executive Kaher Kazem plans to hold talks with executives and employees later this month to explain the carmaker's status and seek support to revive sales and ride out the decadelong exit rumors, a spokesman said.

Kazem may announce a business strategy that includes the launch of new vehicles to boost lackluster sales in South Korea, he said.

In this photo taken Oct. 23, 2017, GM Korea President and Chief Executive Kaher Kazem answers questions from lawmakers on the possibility of the carmaker`s withdrawal from the country during a parliamentary audit. (Yonhap)

This year, GM Korea suffered a decline in sales due to a lack of new models and tougher competition from local rivals and imports.

In the January-October period, GM Korea sold a total of 436,515 vehicles, down 11 percent from 489,842 units a year earlier -- a drop largely affected by poor domestic demand. Domestic sales fell 24 percent to 110,176 from 144,726 during the same period.

GM Korea marked its 15th year of doing business in Asia's fourth-biggest economy Oct. 16 amid growing concerns that it may opt to leave the country in the face of poor performance and high labor costs.

Without denying the rumors of an exit, Kazem said in a parliamentary audit held Oct. 23 that, from management to employees, everyone was doing their best to put the carmaker back on track.

In a press event held Wednesday, GM Korea Vice President Dale Sullivan didn't deny the rumors either and instead stressed it was making investments in GM Korea to diversify its lineup.

Meanwhile, the company and its union have yet to finalize this year's wage negotiations, which have been suspended until new union leadership is elected in mid-November.

If the two parties resume the wage talks later this month, Kazem will meet the union's leaders to explain current business conditions and seek understanding, the spokesman said.

GM is widely expected to restructure its operations here to reduce net losses and seek a turnaround. Possible restructuring measures include the sale of some of its domestic plants and job cuts.

In South Korea, GM has four plants, a design center, a technical center and a proving ground for new vehicles. The Detroit-based carmaker owns a 70.12-percent stake in GM Korea.

GM Korea's product lineup lacks competitive sport utility vehicles at a time when global demand for crossovers is on the rise. Cars produced in the country include the Malibu midsize sedan, the Cruze compact and the Captiva SUV. All GM cars sold in South Korea use the Chevrolet marque. (Yonhap)