“We’re very excited about it,” says chief executive Nick Lancaster. HR Owen already has sole UK representation for Lamborghini which, like Bugatti, is owned by VW Group. It will not open a showroom in the UK, but will display one car at its Jack Barclay Bentley showroom in Barclay Square, London. Prospective customers will be flown to the Bugatti factory in Molsheim, France, to view the cars.
The group expects to receive at least 10% of Bugatti’s 300-unit lifetime production of the £800,000 Veyron supercar, and has already taken forward orders.
The addition has helped lift the gloom at HR Owen, following its pre-tax loss of £7.3m in the first half of 2005. The loss includes a goodwill impairment charge of £4.1m. Once adjusted to reflect this, its operating loss is £0.7m, a substantial swing from the £4.3m operating profit of the corresponding period in 2004.
Turnover has remained stable at £346m against £348m in the 2004 first half. The company also predicts an operating loss in the second half of 2005. Lancaster blames it on declining retail sales and high London operating costs.
He wants to concentrate on the profitable specialist franchises like Ferrari, Bentley and Rolls-Royce. By early next year, HR Owen expects to have disposed of 50-60% of its non-specialist business.
It recently closed its Seat dealership in Tadworth, Surrey, and a BMW outlet in Chelsea.