A slump in sales in China has ended five years of growth for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
The slowing Chinese economy and tough new anti-bribery laws led to a 54% year-on-year drop in sales in the country in 2015. China has driven the expansion of luxury car sales since the financial crisis, and its slowdown has hurt a number of brands.
Rolls-Royce, which is owned by BMW rather than FTSE 100 engineering group of the same name, suffered a 6.8% fall in the number of cars it delivered worldwide last year. The 3,785 vehicles delivered in 2015 was still the second-best performance in the brand’s 112-year history, but marks the end of five consecutive years of sales growth.
Rolls-Royce manufacturers the Wraith, Ghost and Phantom, its top-of-the-range model. It sells more cars worth over £150,000 than any other manufacturer, and last year launched the Dawn, a convertible based on the Wraith. It will be available to customers later this year.
The fall in Chinese sales, the company’s second biggest market before 2015, was partly offset by a 7% rise in the US, it biggest market, and a 2% increase in the UK. The Middle East, which recorded a 4% increase in sales last year, has now replaced China as Rolls-Royce’s second biggest market.
Torsten Müller-Ötvös, the company’s chief executive, said: “Twenty-fifteen was a year of tremendous challenge for the entire luxury industry. I am very proud of our success, which was achieved against a backdrop of considerable global uncertainty.
“We have proven that our long-term strategy of globally balanced, sustainable and profitable growth is delivering, and we have maintained our position as the world’s leading luxury manufacturer. I am quietly confident of a strong year in 2016.”
Rolls-Royce employs 1,600 people at its base in West Sussex, and has 130 dealers in almost 50 countries.
Jaguar Land Rover, the biggest carmaker in Britain, has also suffered in China. Its sales in the country fell 24% in 2015. Record performances in the US, UK and Europe, however, led it to report a 5% rise in worldwide sales last year to 487,065 vehicles, its best ever performance.
This article was written by Graham Ruddick, for theguardian.com on Monday 11th January 2016 18.11 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010