The team at Jack Barclay Bentley has big shoes to fill, but not in the way you might think. Such is the aftersales centre’s commitment to its high-flying customers, it once fulfilled a request from a “Saudi Arabian client” (read: sheikh) to pay for and collect his son’s extra-large made-to-order shoes from a shop in Mayfair, and deliver them to a family member ahead of said person’s flight to Saudi that same day.
These sorts of stories are rife for Shahzad Alvi, service manager at Jack Barclay Bentley’s aftersales centre in Wandsworth, London. He’s charmingly discreet – as he must be with such an elite customer base – but does tell us that clients include “royal families, dignitaries and celebrities”.
Another outlandish request, far beyond the remit of servicing a car, came from a long-standing Libyan client. Once based in London, he moved to Spain and asked Alvi to sell his flat, giving him power of attorney to do so. Alvi explains: “Years before, I needed spinal surgery and this customer said ‘book any hospital and I’ll pay for it’. I declined, of course, but the gesture meant more to me than anything else. The flat sold for £1 million and I didn’t take a cut.”
So, what about the cars? The site, based in an impressive former bus garage, is 82,000 square feet, making it the largest Bentley servicing centre in Europe. It ushers up to 400 Bentleys through its doors each month and, during our visit, there were three Mulsannes belonging to various royal families including a super-stretched Mulliner Mulsanne for a Middle Eastern royal family worth upwards of £1m.
It wasn’t the most expensive car there, mind. That gong goes to the Porsche 959 – worth around £1.5m – which was under cover and being stored for a regular client.
“We’re a global business, with customers from around the world,” says David Fellowes, group aftersales director of HR Owen, Jack Barclay’s umbrella firm. “We have one client for whom we’ll drive his Bentley from Monaco and he’ll drive it back, or vice versa. And we have plenty for whom we pick up a car from one country and deliver it back to another.” It’s also common practice for Alvi to organise shipments of cars from far-flung places simply to have them serviced. How the other half live.