BERLIN (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N) has appointed Marc Farley chief operating officer at its Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) operations, dealing a blow to its new boss Jim Hackett’s efforts to break out of decades of low growth and minimal profitability.

James Schroeder, Ford's newly appointed Group Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer for Europe, will retain responsibility for EMEA, while Farley will also report to Schroeder, a person familiar with the matter said. (bit.ly/2j8VQWM)

Farley, currently head of sales and marketing in China, had been expected to replace the outgoing Wolfgang Bernhard this year as head of Ford’s EMEA business.

Ford did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Farley’s appointment to oversee what is the second-largest operating unit of Ford reflects the need for the U.S. automaker to integrate its vision for mobility services with its core auto-making business, some analysts say.

“Ford’s traditional business model is being challenged and needs strong management like Farley’s leadership to realize the full potential of its mobility assets,” Evercore ISI analyst Sandy Morris said.

Farley has a solid track record, with roles at global auto companies including Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE) and Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc (RR.L), Morris said.