Addressing the challenges facing DS, Jones says: “It takes 15-20 years to build a brand. Last year was a result of the DS 3 in runout, and it’s more noticeable when you have a lower number of models. We’re in it for the long term, launching one new model a year.” Jones wants to emulate DS’s success in France – where it holds a staggering 10% market share – in the UK: “It’s about people recognising DS for its design, the Frenchness, the prestige. We buy French clothing brands and perfume, for example, and have a positive association, and it’s about how we can do that with DS in the premium car market.”
After the turbulence of 2020, Jones doesn’t believe this month’s car sales – traditionally one of the two biggest months of the year – is a good indicator of what’s ahead. “What we’re planning for into next year is unpredictability. It’s good that the market is up, as we’re all trying to recover what we lost in quarter two, but I don’t think September will be a fair indicator of quarter four, when you consider the end of furlough, potential redundancies and so on.
“There may be a pull forward – buy now before the [likely UK-EU trade] tariff arrives on 1 January. That might mean quarter four is okay, but then the first part of 2021 is disastrous. Next year, with Brexit and tariffs, who knows?”
Pre-pandemic, Jones would drive into the office in alternating PSA models for 7.15am. She currently has a Peugeot 3008 plug-in hybrid, but a move largely to home working now means an even earlier start.
Jones says: “My first job is to work through my emails and look at any overnight news. I work with individual brands on key strategic projects. For example, during the pandemic, we launched selling Peugeot cars online and we’ll soon do the same for Citroën. They’re the sort of projects I get involved in; they’re big and new and emerging.” Jones’ four days a month at PSA HQ in France are currently being done virtually: “We learned that we can be really efficient in a virtual setting but we also know we need to be face to face for more complicated projects.”
Her favourite aspect of the job is “the variety and complexity and working with diverse groups of people”, while her least favourite will resonate with many: “It’s clearing all the emails. It’s not the content, just the number in the inbox. I try not to look at emails from Saturday lunchtime to Sunday afternoon.”