Aston Martin driver James Bond has no problem attracting women and now it seems the British car company’s new CEO, Dr Andrew Palmer, wants his sports cars to have similar appeal, describing them as “the Hermès of automobiles”.
In a fascinating interview in The Wall Street Journal, the former Nissan exec, who took the helm of the 102-year-old car company eight months ago, said he’s keen to move Aston Martin into the luxury lifestyle goods category with luggage, watches and clothing, as well as boats and possibly hotels, in a bid to push up the company’s earnings multiples.
“We see ourselves much more in the luxury space than in the pure automotive space,” he said, adding that if the business was sold – and he wants to build the brand to the point of a sale or float – it would be better off being owned by a luxury goods brand than another motoring company, because it “would fit better”.
Only 5% of the 70,000 Aston Martins sold were bought by women and Palmer is keen to increase that market share, with an all-female advisory board as part of the design team for the new DBX. Apparently the ideal female customer is “Charlotte”, a professional American working mum.
But the Aston Martin has challenges, with a 10% fall in revenue in 2014 to £468 million ($935 million), hit hard by a product recall that saw China ban imports for five months. However, the company still managed to post a £66 million ($130 million) pre-tax profits, despite product development spend jumping 45%.
The company is majority-owned by Italian private-equity firm Investindustrial, which last month committed £200 million ($400 million) for new ventures, including a new factory for the electric DBX. A new Lagonda and DB9 replacement are also set to debut before 2020.
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