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'Invigorating' China a key focus after record year of sales for Rolls-Royce

Updated: May 13, 2024 By LI FUSHENG China Daily Print
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Rolls-Royce CEO Chris Brownridge shares the company's global strategy and his insights into China's luxury market at the 2024 Auto China in Beijing. [Photo/China Daily]

Rolls-Royce finds China "invigorating" and will continue its investment in the country, its second-largest market in the world, said the CEO of the British luxury brand.

"It's a very exciting place and that's why it's somewhere that Rolls-Royce is very keen to continue to invest," said Chris Brownridge.

He said there is a trend of growth in ultrahigh net worth individuals and he expects the momentum to grow.

"As the demand grows in China, our ability to offer that excellence in client experience will grow as well," he said.

In 2023, Rolls-Royce opened its second Private Office outside the United Kingdom in Shanghai, following the first opening in Dubai in 2022.

"We see China is really important as a region for Rolls-Royce," said Brownridge.

Prior to this, those after a Bespoke creation would have to fly to the manufacturer's headquarters at Goodwood in the UK.

The options are much more than color and trim. "It's 1,300 pieces of mother-of-pearl or it's the color of your children's eyes," said Brownridge.

"Rolls-Royce Bespoke is something, which is even as someone who's been in the auto sector for 29 years, I still can't quite get my head around the possibilities. That's why our clients love us," he added.

The Private Office in Shanghai has had more than 200 individual client engagements, said Brownridge.

He said the average age of its clients globally is around 40, but Chinese clients are younger and they are demanding more and more personalized cars.

At the 2024 Auto China that ended earlier this month, the carmaker unveiled three Bespoke commissions of the Ghost Extended, Phantom Extended and Spectre. They are the first-ever creations to emerge from the Private Office Shanghai.

Rolls-Royce has opened a logistics center in China so it can get parts to its dealers quicker. It now has 29 dealers in the country.

"So we're investing in this region and as it grows, we'll continue to invest," he said.

In 2023, Rolls-Royce delivered more than 6,000 vehicles, the best in its history. China was its second-largest market, following the United States.

Rolls-Royce reported sales growth in most of its markets in 2023, but unlike most carmakers, Brownridge stressed that volume is not a priority. "So as for the absolute volume, we don't really focus too much on that," he said.

For the brand, which turned 120 years old in early May, its mission is to meet the wishes of its clients, which he explains is what a luxury brand does.

"Everything we make is at their request. Our mission is to deliver the most luxurious client experience.

"It's not just about what we make. It's how we work with the client to design and maybe make it individual to them," said Brownridge.

He said another thing that distinguishes the manufacturer from others is its personal relationships with clients.

"When I first (had) been announced (to be) joining Rolls-Royce, one of our clients at a dinner welcomed me to Rolls-Royce. Because our clients feel that they are part of the Rolls-Royce family and that's a big difference."

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