Bentley profit soars despite cars lost at sea and stuck in China
Luxury British carmaker Bentley on Thursday said its first-quarter operating profit jumped 162% vs the same period last year as soaring vehicle prices offset the loss of some cars at sea and pandemic-related delivery problems in China.
The Volkswagen unit said high customer interest in new models resulted in a record order book of just under 10,000 vehicles for the 102-year-old carmaker.
Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark said about 200 cars, about 75 of them customised orders for specific customers, bound for the US market went down on a ship that caught fire off the Azores in February. Hallmark said those sales were largely recovered in April.
Chinese sales were hit by pandemic shutdowns which also affected the ability to transport cars inland by truck.
"The crises that we've had with Covid-19, semiconductors and now the tragedy in Ukraine have not dented customers' willingness to invest in high luxury goods and certainly not in Bentleys," Hallmark told Reuters. "We're really doing well."
The sales dip follows a record year for Bentley in 2021 as pandemic travel restrictions left wealthy consumers with more disposable income, lifting premium and luxury car sales in key global markets such as China and the US.
Hallmark said without any further supply chain issues, the company could produce about 15,000 cars this year, compared with the 14,659 it sold last year.
First-quarter vehicle sales fell 5% to 3,203 units from 3,358 a year earlier, with sales down 9% in the Americas and 29% in China.
But the average revenue per car rose 15% to 212,000 euros (roughly R3,508,521) from 184,000 euros (roughly R3,055,067) a year earlier as customers opted for more personaliSed options. Hallmark said customers have embraced the ability to personalise seat leathers, stitching, seating configurations and a myriad of other options.
"Dealers are doing limited editions, special packages for individual customers and it's getting more and more popular," he said.
Revenue at Bentley was up 41% at 813m euros (roughly R13,501,995,580) vs 578m euros (roughly R9,600,524,101) a year earlier, and the carmaker's operating profit rose to 170m euros (roughly R2,820,419,056) from 65m euros (roughly R1,078,472,200).
Profits were also partly lifted by a restructuring program that began in 2018.
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