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Bentley to recruit 350 Crewe staff

Bentley, the luxury carmaker, is to create 350 new jobs at its UK plant as it prepares for production of the long awaited sports coupe.

The manufacturer is adding a second shift at the factory in Crewe as its strives to fulfil the 2004 delivery date for the 3500 Continental GT orders already taken by retailers.

Launched in October, the £110,000 198mph super-tourer will help the Volkswagen-owned firm break even by 2005.

The German carmaker has invested £500m in Bentley since the acquisition in 1998 – £216m went into making the Continental GT at the Crewe factory. More than £154m was committed to supplier tooling while £63m was spent on upgrading the factory.

Franz-Josef Paefgen, Bentley chief executive, says the company is aiming for an operating profit of at least 100m Euros (£69m) on a turnover of between one and 1.5bn Euros (£690m-£1.03bn).

The extra staff will allow Crewe to make up 5000 Continentals every year. Investment in people will also help production and development of the next Bentley model – rumoured to be a convertible.

Launch of the GT has been delayed by a month due to strikes at VW's East German plant, which supplies the car's bodyshell.

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