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AutoNation COO, tech chief exit as retailer restructures regional operations

Senior AutoNation Inc. executives, including Lance Iserman, COO and executive vice president, and Tom Conophy, chief technology officer and executive vice president, stepped down Jan. 7 as the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based auto retailer announced a reorganization and cost savings plan to improve efficiency and profitability.

As part of the plan, the U.S. automotive retailer plans to consolidate its regional structure to two from three regions, among other changes, which are expected to reduce costs by about $50 million a year. As part of the change, the company appointed its eastern region president, James Bender, as executive vice president of sales. Bender has held key positions within AutoNation for over 20 years, it said.

Donna Parlapiano, executive vice president of franchise network, merger & acquisitions, and corporate real estate, retired Jan. 3, while Dennis Berger, executive vice president and chief human resource officer, will leave the company Jan. 31.

Mike Jackson, AutoNation chairman, CEO and president, forecast 2019 to be "challenging" for automotive retail amid a shift in customer buying behavior.

The company on Dec. 11, 2018, led a $146 million funding round for online used-car retailer Vroom Inc., having previously acquired a 7% stake in Vroom. AutoNation also teamed up on Nov. 15, 2018, with California-based car-leasing company Fair to allow its customers to subscribe to used vehicles using a mobile app.