Luxury Bentley models drive profits higher as buyers splash out

Bentley made more profit in the first six months of this year than in all of last year, as luxury car buyers purchased ever more expensive vehicles and the company reaped the benefits of a pandemic restructuring.

Operating profit for the Volkswagen-owned brand rose to €398mn in the first half of 2022, higher than the €389mn booked during the whole of 2021. Sales rose to €1.7bn, compared with €1.3bn in the same six-month period last year.

More expensive models meant customers paid more for vehicles even before adding on extras, such as bespoke wood trims, that can increase the price by tens of thousands of pounds. The average price of each Bentley vehicle rose from €186,000 last year to €213,000.

Margins for the six months rose to 23.3 per cent, compared with 13.4 per cent during the first half of 2021.

“We were only up 3 percent in sales, but revenue was up 30 percent,” said chief executive Adrian Hallmark.

Profits were also helped by a company-wide restructuring during the pandemic that cut staff by a quarter.

The group significantly increased sales after launching its Bentayga sport utility vehicle, but Hallmark said the company was not planning major increases in production levels over the next few years.

“We do not expect to see significant volume growth over the next three years,” he said. This is in part because the paint shop in the Bentley factory in Crewe is already running at full capacity, including through the night and at weekends. “We simply cannot paint any more cars,” he added.

Earlier this year, the company announced a €3bn investment in building electric models at the Crewe factory.

Hallmark warned that a recession would hit the company, even if it did not directly affect customers.

“Our customer group does not lose spending power, but spending on visible self-reward items massively reduces when there’s general hardship and doom and gloom,” he said.

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