Nokia has appointed Erik Bertman as its new general manager for China, as the Finnish handset maker strives to reverse its declining sales in the world’s largest mobile market.
Bertman will take over the role on June 1 and be based in Beijing.
Originally from Sweden, Bertman previously served as the regional lead of Nokia Russia since 2009, where he oversaw sales and marketing. His experience with the company also includes a stint as financial officer in the sub-Saharan Africa region.
Bertman succeeds Gustavo Eichelmann, who is leaving Nokia and returning to the UK for personal reasons, the company said in its official Chinese blog.
Eichelmann joined Nokia in 2004 and was appointed as GM for Nokia China on January 1, 2012.
Despite the company's statement, industry watchers suggest that Eichelmann’s departure is associated with Nokia’s poor performance in the China market, which is now the largest single market for Android phones.
The company slipped to number seven in overall sales in 2012, with 3.7% market share in China, compared to the 29.9% it had in 2011, according to Strategy Analytics. By comparison, Korean rival Samsung rose quickly to the top spot by nearly tripling its China sales last year, selling 30.06 million smartphones. Samsung now holds a 17.7% market share in China.
Nokia statistics show that handset sales for the first quarter of 2013 declined in almost every geographic region, except North America. Greater China was hardest hit, with revenues shrinking 50% year-on-year to €256 million ($336 million). Yet on a quarter-on-quarter basis, revenue grew 20%.
In the first quarter, the company sold 3.4 million phones in China, down 26% quarter-on-quarter from Q4 2012, and 63% year-on-year from the same period in 2011.