Bentley rents jets to transport car parts to Britain during Brexit

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Bentley, the Volkswagen-owned luxury automaker, has booked five Antonov cargo planes to help overcome potential bottlenecks in the event of Britain’s disorderly exit from the European Union, announced the automaker on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: A Bentley logo is pictured on a Continental car model during the 88th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, March 6, 2018. REUTERS / Denis Balibouse / File Photo

Automakers are securing additional supply routes as policymakers in Brussels and Westminster seek to strike a deal to determine future trade relations with mainland Europe following Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Bentley, which makes premium sports cars, buys 90% of its components in continental Europe and sells around 24% of its cars in Europe, chief executive Adrian Hallmark told the Financial Times’ Future of the Car summit.

“We spent two years planning. We have five Antonovs in reserve to transport bodies to Manchester, ”Hallmark said, adding that in addition to moving car bodies by air, Bentley has increased the level of spare parts stored for production.

“Before, we operated just in time with a two-day stock. Now we have 14 days of stock. It’s been 14 working days, so three weeks of stock, ”he said.

The company has reserved additional warehouses and planned new logistics routes in case traditional methods of supply are hampered by bottlenecks.

If Britain fails to strike a negotiated trade deal with EU policymakers, Bentley would be able to absorb the 10% tariffs by raising prices and cutting costs. It would be less damaging than supply disruptions.

“It’s not existential as long as everything is flowing. Stopping flows is far more dangerous than Brexit tariffs, ”Hallmark said, referring to supply bottlenecks.

This year, Bentley plans to sell more than 10,000 luxury cars and break even, mainly on a rebound in demand in China, Hallmark said.

Sales in China are up 35% from before the COVID-19 crisis. Sales in Europe and the United States increased 15%, Hallmark said.

“Overall, we are in a position where we will have well over 10,000 sales this year,” he said via Webcast. “We are on the verge of going beyond the breakeven point.”

Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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