Aston Martin has a new chairman. David Richards, founder of Prodrive, heads a consortium which earlier this month paid Ford £480 million for control of Aston. Ford retains a stake worth around £40 million. Here, Richards reveals his aspirations for the 84-year-old marque.
How important is Aston Martin to you?
I’ve lusted after Astons since I was a schoolboy, and owned quite a few, so this means a lot. But it’s great business, too. Prodrive already runs Aston’s race cars, so I’ve already had a connection. From now on it’ll be closer still.
We say: Richards knows plenty about the pleasure and pain of Aston ownership, and shows a rare determination to keep quality going forwards.
Who’s in charge? You or Ulrich Bez?
Our jobs are different, but they match one another well. Ulrich has day-to-day control of the company like any chief executive. My job as chairman is to represent the shareholders’ interests. I’ll need to understand a lot about the company’s workings and help direct its strategy.
We say: Each of these strong-minded individuals is used to having the last word. Bez has run Aston his own way, but the new shareholders are unlikely to want him to be quite such a free spirit in future.
What are Aston Martin’s new priorities?
Although Aston is 84 years old, this is a young business which needs to mature. It’s important that we develop procedures and standards of our own. As far as new models go, the DBS, our Vanquish replacement, isn’t far away and we’ve also approved the investment that will bring the Rapide four-door saloon to market late in 2009.
We say: Neither Bez nor Richards want Ford’s cadences to dictate their plans any longer, though Richards does acknowledge Ford’s continuing importance in Aston’s future. Aston intends to make a virtue of its new independence.