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Motor Mouth articles 2012

High rollers are doing just fine

Modest beginnings: One of the three Rolls-Royces built in 1904

THE real world may be reeling from the misery of recession but we can take comfort from the knowledge that some people are still managing to make ends meet and some businesses are booming.

But if you thought it was only the providers of life’s bare necessities that were thriving and the luxury market that was suffering, think again – because trade has never been brisker at Rolls-Royce.

Yes, the very name is synonymous with opulence and affluence, two qualities you might expect to be in short supply right now, but RR has just announced that 2011 was the most successful year in its 107-year history.

The company smashed all its previous records by selling a total of 3,538 cars during the year ­– up 31 per cent on the 2,711 it sold in 2010. Its previous best year was 1978 when 3,347 Rolls-Royces were sold.

Delighted bosses at the Goodwood-based company described the achievement as a Great British success story – perhaps overlooking the fact that the company is actually owned by BMW.

The rare example of a gloom-busting financial story was unveiled only days after Rolls-Royce’s great rival in the prestige car sector Bentley, based in Crewe but owned by Volkswagen, reported a 37 per cent sales jump to more than 7,000 last year.

Rolls-Royce report sales growth in both their Ghost and Phantom models and across all regions, with bespoke content at their highest ever levels. The biggest market in 2011 was China, followed by the United States, the UK, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

In terms of global regions, the Asia Pacific area registered an extraordinarily sharp sales increase of 47 per cent, while Middle East sales also soared by 23 per cent. Sales in Britain were up 30 per cent, while figures for Continental Europe also made nonsense of the economic climate, with Germany and Russia both more than doubling their 2010 sales.

Rolls-Royce’s CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös said: “Our business is in excellent shape. We are developing our dealer network, moving into new markets like South America, expanding our manufacturing operation in West Sussex to meet global demand and have plans to develop our product range.”

Last September, Rolls-Royce announced plans to expand its manufacturing plant at Goodwood, with more than 1,000 people employed on site. This will help the company meet further growth in worldwide sales and satisfy demand for highly personalised models. Expansion work will begin in February.

Add the 10,000-plus total of Rollers and Bentleys sold last year to the tens of thousands of other limousines and supercars that the world’s well-heeled splashed out on, and it’s pretty clear that, despite the evidence of our eyes and the gloom-filled daily news bulletins, not everyone is worrying where the next mortgage payment is coming from.

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