Bentley Motors expects to ‘break even’ in 2020 after axing hundreds of staff

Car-manufacturer Bentley Motors expects to ‘break even’ for the year after seeing a huge recovery in orders following the pandemic.

The luxury car maker, which is based in Crewe, has revealed that its current order book is 60 per cent higher than it was at the start of the year – when it had the ‘best order bank’ in 10 years.

Now the company has confirmed that it expects to achieve sales of around 10,000 in 2020 which is ‘in line’ with an average year.

The news comes after Bentley Motors axed 800 staff as a result of a halt in production due to Covid-19.

The company staged a ‘Beyond 100’ press conference yesterday (5th) to update the media on its current year performance and outline its plans for the future.

Chairman and chief executive at Bentley Motors, Adrian Hallmark, said: “This year has been a real rollercoaster. Following 2019 when we began the turnaround of the company and successfully got Bentley back into profit, we’d set out for 2020 to be a record year.

“We had a record order bank at the beginning of the year. Quarter one – even despite the second half of March being the beginning of lockdown and the covid problems – was the best quarter in the company’s 100-year history. The next quarter was also a record, but a record loss; and quarter three has bounced back and as we look toward the end of the year now we are in pretty good shape compared with the beginning of the year.

“The financial impact in quarter two led to major risk for the company and we’ve had to restructure our operations. We announced job losses of up to 1,000 people and we’ve actually agreed at just over 800, but I’m delighted to say, even though that’s a difficult thing to do, there’s only 10 people out of the whole company that are at risk of compulsory redundancy. The rest has all been done by reducing contractors and a voluntary process and then re-deploying people into new positions.

“So we are very proud of the human way in which the whole management team has been able to manage through this crisis, it’s been tremendous.”

He added: “Before this lockdown we were looking pretty good, and we still are. With all of the work that we’ve done so far we can continue to operate, we have more than 2,000 people on site and more than 2,000 people working from home, so we can still build cars.

“We should achieve more than 10,000 sales this year which is in line with our regular years and, if it weren’t for that second quarter loss, we’d be in a really good situation. We are now in a position where we could get to break even for the full year, that’s our mission.

“The most encouraging thing is that we started the year with the best order bank that we’ve had for about 10 years, the order bank today is 60 per cent higher than it was at the beginning of the year.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, who knows what will happen next year, but as we stand today our product range is the freshest it’s ever been, all our models are under two years in the market – some just a few months – and we’re at this point now where we can capitalise on all that investment and product power that we have, over the next one to three years.”

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Over the next 10 years, Bentley is putting a major focus on sustainability which will see it become a carbon neutral company by 2030.

Adrian said: “We’ve already taken great steps to neutralise the CO2 on our production by both taking our own energy from the solar farm down the road and buying green energy to replace what else we need. For two years now we’ve been certified carbon neutral but that’s only the beginning, we have a lot further to go.

“We want to create a carbon neutral company, end-to-end, by 2030. We will make sure that the products from 2026, everything we offer, will be electrified and only electrified, either plug-in hybrid with a credible range or a BEV (battery electric vehicle). No more combustion engines.

“So, a 100-year-old company that’s renowned for the best 12 cylinder – and the most successful 12 cylinder in the world – will not be building engines in less than a decade. This is profound change for the industry and we want to lead that change. We’re not frightened by it, we’re inspired by it.”

He added: “All of this wrapped together is Beyond 100 and that’s the core of our strategy, but the most important thing is not just to make electric cars or sustainable cars, we’re going to make Bentleys.”

BusinessLive – West Midlands

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