DETROIT—Group 1 picks up Ford’s newly departed marketing executive Martin Collins, who became the latest in a series of high-level executives to leave the struggling automaker, The Detroit News reported.

Collins, 43, was executive director of marketing for the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands, and he served as a major force behind Ford’s “Bold Moves” marketing campaign. He also played a role in the recently launched “Lincoln Dreams” campaign.

Collins joins a number of other senior execs who have left Ford since Alan Mulally, a former Boeing Co. exec., was appointed chief executive officer by Chairman Bill Ford Jr.

Ford has also offered buyout packages to 85 percent of its white-collar employees and hopes to eliminate 10,000 salaried jobs over the next year. Ford is also looking to streamline its operation, announcing in October it was considering the sale of its APCO (Automobile Protection Corporation) subsidiary, which it purchased in July 1999.

Company officials did not comment on who will replace Collins, who joined Ford in 1985. Likely candidates include John Felice, Ford brand general marketing manager, and Michael Richards, general marketing manager for Lincoln Mercury.

"Companies that are going through the transition that Ford is undertaking will often have significant numbers of their management teams depart," said Chuck Moore, managing director of Conway, MacKenzie & Dunleavy, a restructuring firm based in Birmingham. "Although you can use a lot of institutional knowledge (it) is often good to have outsiders with a fresh perspective come in. Often times that can help you achieve the goals even quicker."

Group 1 confirmed that it has hired Collins as its southeast regional vice president. He will oversee the company's dealerships in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.