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GM design chief retiring; company veteran named as replacement

Vice President of Design at General Motors International Michael Simcoe, 58, is shown in this undated photo courtesy of General Motors Communications released on April 7, 2016. REUTERS/General Motors/Handout via Reuters

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co's (GM.N) chief global vehicle designer, Ed Welburn, will retire on July 1 and be replaced by 33-year company veteran Michael Simcoe, the automaker announced on Thursday.

Welburn, 65, has led GM's design team since 2003 and is credited with expanding the automaker's network to 10 design centers in seven countries.

"He nurtured a creative, inclusive and customer-focused culture among our designers that has strengthened our global brands," GM Chief Executive Mary Barra said in reference to Welburn.

Simcoe, 58, has been vice president of GM International Design and based in Australia and South Korea since 2014. He will become GM's seventh design chief, a position that dates back roughly 90 years.

Simcoe, who joined GM in 1983 as a designer for Holden in Australia, one of GM's brands, was named executive director of GM design for the Asia-Pacific region in 2003.

The following year he became the company's executive director of exterior vehicle design for North America. In that position, he was involved in development of the GMC Terrain, Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Camaro and Equinox and the Cadillac CTS.

In his most recent job, Simcoe led the design of the Buick Avenir concept.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Paul Simao)