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Bentley to expand UK retail network

Not many manufacturers can boast a year on year sales increase of nearly 400%. In May 2003, Bentley registered 19 cars. Having signed 89 customers to the exclusive Arnage and Continental GT ownership club during May, the Crewe-based carmaker’s five-month total for the year stood at 625 units – 384.5% better than 2003’s year-to-date 129 (see page 57).

While the USA is VW-owned Bentley’s largest market (45% global share), the UK is second, followed by Germany, France, Switzerland and Russia (a showroom opened in Moscow last year and there are 50 customer orders to date).

Talking to AM at the Sunday Times Motor Show Live Geoff Dowding, managing director, European operations, says he expects to complete 2004 with about 1,500 UK sales – 200 Arnage, the balance GTs. He also anticipates growing the dealer network from 18 outlets to 22, and is close to confirming authorised repairer status with two businesses – one of them understood to be HR Owen in London.

“There has been substantial investment by dealers in the past year on our new corporate identity – something like £6.5m has been spent on refurbishing,” he says. “This year and into 2005 another £8/10m will be spent in the second phase of network redevelopment, with new builds in Leicester, the Channel Isles and major refurbishments in Pulborough, Birmingham, Cardiff and Newcastle.”

Bentley’s UK network is being integrated into Dowding’s European infrastructure, which has a common corporate identity.

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