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Bentley's turnaround boosted by "industrializing" personalization, including fine art

Bentley's turnaround boosted by "industrializing" personalization, including fine art

Bentley’s story over the last few years is interesting. Going back to the end of 2019, the road ahead looked somewhat bleak.

Vehicle sales had been stuck in neutral for 7 years. And no new models were planned.

Meanwhile, over that same period, Ferrari and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars launched new models and saw their unit sales rise by 45% and 40% respectively.

Obviously, Bentley Motors needed to take action.

But rather than launch a new model like the competition, Bentley’s CEO Adrian Hallmark and his team did the opposite. In 2020, they ended production of their behemoth sedan, the low-volume Mulsanne.

And they doubled down on the emerging personalization trend.

Listening to feedback from customers, management expanded the breadth of functional and aesthetic options, offering 46 billion potential combinations of features, colors, patterns and materials.

This was a risky move because it added complexity to the manufacturing process and guaranteed an increase in inventory and overhead expenses.

But Bentley management didn’t stop there. Unlike many competitors, they also invested in “industrializing” their personalizing workshop division, called Mulliner. With a Mulliner-commissioned vehicle, customers can easily order hand-crafted touches of fine art that evoke stories and themes. Or customers can choose from limited edition vehicles built with these artistic flourishes.

The results? In 2021, Bentley saw a massive 30% jump in unit sales. In 2022, sales grew another 3.4%. While unit sales retreated 10% in 2023, profitability has continued to grow.

Last week, Mr. Hallmark was quoted in Automotive News, saying that customers were adding an average of $42,000 in options to each car, and the number of Mulliner commissioned vehicles continued to grow. “We’re now making three times, four times the profit per year that we used to make.”

Just 2 days after that story was published, a related story appeared: "Aston Martin, in midst of turnaround, hires Bentley's Adrian Hallmark as CEO"

 “Sand and Surf” Continental GTC Azure (one of four) - photos at O’Gara Coach Beverly Hills


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