In the fall of 2022, Bentley Motors CEO Adrian Hallmark told Yahoo Finance he had “never seen spending patterns” like those at the time, with his high-end clientele, and the famed British automaker was heading towards a record year.

Hallmark himself probably didn’t realize then how big of a year it was going to be.

Bentley Motors (VOW.DE) on Friday reported record revenue for the year of $3.58 billion, up 19% from a year ago despite only a 4% increase in volume to 15,174 cars.

Even more impressive, operating profit rose to $750.7 million, an 82% surge from 2021’s tally of $338.2 million.

Adrian Hallmark, CEO of Bentley Motors, poses for a photograph inside one of his company's cars on the production line of their factory in Crewe, Britain January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Phil NobleAdrian Hallmark, CEO of Bentley Motors, poses for a photograph inside one of his company's cars on the production line of their factory in Crewe, Britain January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Adrian Hallmark, CEO of Bentley Motors, poses for a photograph inside one of his company’s cars on the production line of their factory in Crewe, Britain January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Phil Noble

These figures are absolutely stunning from a financial performance perspective, and helped drive a huge year for Audi Group (Bentley’s owner) as well.

Despite this, Hallmark said 2022 was a somewhat precarious year from a production perspective.

“The best and the worst of times,” Hallmark said in a roundtable discussion with reporters. “We faced so many challenges last year, 10 to be precise… at least four of them could have shut the business down for months.”

In a wide ranging conversation, Hallmark touched on the outlook for 2023, macroeconomic headwinds, and why volume isn’t the most important thing for Bentley’s financial success.

Macro risk and China

Bentley's Bentayga SUV model lineupBentley's Bentayga SUV model lineup

Bentley’s Bentayga SUV model lineup

Production complications like China COVID shutdowns and other plant closures hurt chip supplies, though being a part of a larger group like VW/Audi helped Bentley with securing chips, Hallmark said. The Ukraine conflict was more dire from a parts perspective, as factories there supplied many items that were difficult to acquire.

Looking bigger picture, Hallmark sees “macroeconomic risk” as more critical than last year, but from Bentley’s perspective it will be able to weather these headwinds based on how its clientele operate. Bentley has a forward order bank (future customer orders) of six and a half to seven months out, which is healthy for the business.

Those customers, spread around the globe, are particularly strong in the U.S. and Europe, and once hot China is finally returning. After tripling in 2021, Hallmark said China’s “order rate plummeted back down to where it was in 2019” last year, though the start of 2023 has China sales recovering to “somewhere in between” 2019 and 2021.

“China has popped again in the first few months this year… not quite as crazy as 2021, but there’s an old saying, ‘If it feels too good to be true, then it normally is’,” Hallmark said.

The luxury consumer endures

The Bentley Batur coupeThe Bentley Batur coupe

The Bentley Batur coupe

Bentley’s well-heeled clientele doesn’t appear fazed by macroeconomic risks at the moment. Perhaps it is a continuation of the COVID effect, with wealthier buyers seem more willing to enjoy their money as opposed to keeping it in their bank accounts.

And they are taking that money to option out their cars, which means higher margins for Bentley.

“The spend per car looks higher than last year,” Hallmark noted. “They are spending more per car…and it’s because of customer choice.” Hallmark said clients are taking already high trim levels like the “Azure” and “Mulliner” lines and speccing them up with more options.

“It’s a double whammy, it is truly fantastic,” Hallmark said on adding options on top of higher-trim levels. “The optionally and personalization options are so broad indeed, so when people see the value that they are getting, they want to enjoy themselves.”

Inside a Bentley motorcarInside a Bentley motorcar

Inside a Bentley motorcar

The next logical question is whether Bentley can hike prices even higher, if its customers are willing to pay for it. Though Bentley “absorbed huge amounts of material price increases,” due to inflation, Hallmark says to expect “normal price increases” for its clientele, around a couple percent for next year. This is in contrast to what Porsche said earlier this week, where it intends to boost prices considerably for its cars for the next model year.

Bentley already charges a pretty penny for its vehicles (pricing starts around $200K and go upwards of $1 million for special edition models), and with options and higher trims ballooning up prices, it doesn’t see the need to add even more price increases at the moment, and that’s why volume doesn’t matter for bespoke brands like Bentley.

“I wouldn’t look at volume growth as a key measure,” Hallmark said. Bentley is physically constrained from a production and space point of view from the factory in Crewe, England, and can’t make any more cars. Hallmark would rather spec up and sell those higher end, customized Bentley models as long as he can.

In fact the customer wants it. Higher-end options like diamond cross-stitched leather finishings, and Bentley’s exclusive rotating gauge center dashboard (above), were internally modeled to have 25% uptake. Bentley is seeing over 90% of customers ordering these high-end options.

And for a brand that’s using current funding to fuel its EV transformation, which includes going fully electric by 2030, the sky’s the limit in terms of what Hallmark and his team are willing to do to make Bentley cars that much more unique — and exclusive.

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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