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American Embassy deal helps HR Owen’s profits

Thanks to the American Embassy, HR Owen came out of the first half of the year financially sound.

Trading losses reached £1 million, but the money taken in for early surrender of leased land at Nine Elms, Wandsworth, brought in sufficient to declare a £6.5 million pre-tax profit which compares with £1.7 million for the same period last year.

The US Embassy plans to move to the Nine Elms site which can be made more secure than the Mayfair location.

The shrinkage of the turnover shows just how bad the sales of new luxury sales became – down from last year’s £84 million to £62 million. What saved the business from a total disaster was the unexpectedly strong used car sales driven by bargain hunters. 

That has driven chief executive Nick Lancaster to get more heavily involved in specialist used cars and there is to be a new showroom in South Ken-sington shared with Rolls-Royce.
“There is another million pounds to come when we give some assurances to the developer about our future on the site.”

Lancaster now has to relocate Bentley which was one of the biggest Bentley workshops in the world. The group has just been through a relocation of Ferrari and Lamborghini. 

“This is more of the same, but bigger and grander.” Bentley holds 27% of HR Owen’s stock.

The used car development is an initiative to put Rolls-Royce and used sports cars at the heart of Kensington in Melton Court.

“It’s opposite South Kensington tube. It was the HR Owen head office and sold Rolls-Royce, Bentley and sports cars for many years,” said Lancaster. 

“Lookers bought it, changed their mind and we have taken it back. It is a great location. It will be the only sports car location and franchised dealer in central London with customer parking.”

Lancaster was quick to make the point that the business had been in planning for some time and was not a knee-jerk reaction to the success with used cars during the recession.

“We have a very strong balance sheet now, thanks to the land deal and have some very strong new cars coming such as the Ferrari 458 and the new Rolls-Royce Ghost which are already forward sold. The outlook for us is one of gradual improvement.”

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