Asbury Automotive Group Inc. CEO Craig Monaghan will step down Jan. 1 after nine years leading the company. COO David Hult will replace him, the company said last week.
Monaghan, 60, will become vice chairman of the board until the dealership group's 2018 annual meeting of stockholders, which typically is in April. He also will become a nonexecutive special adviser until he retires April 30, 2019.
Monaghan has been CEO and president of Asbury since 2008. Before that, he was CFO for Sears, Roebuck & Co. and AutoNation Inc.
"It's been a phenomenal run," Monaghan told Automotive News, "but it's time for me to move on."
The low point came in 2009, when Asbury got a "going concern" opinion from its outside auditors. In essence, that meant the auditors had "serious concerns" about the company's prospects for being in business 12 months later, Monaghan recalled.
"Today, we're a much different company, a much stronger company," he said. "I'd give a vast amount of the credit to the general managers and the management teams at our stores. They're the ones on the front lines."
Hult, 51, has been Asbury's COO since November 2014. He also will join the board of directors. Hult has worked in auto retail for more than three decades and has held senior management positions with public and private dealership groups, such as RLJ McLarty Landers Automotive Holdings, Group 1 Automotive Inc. and Penske Automotive Group Inc.
Asbury Automotive Group, of Duluth, Ga., ranks No. 7 on Automotive News' list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with retail sales of 102,360 new vehicles in 2016. It operates 79 dealerships, primarily in the South.