Hard-hit Aston aiming to get back on stronger footing and rebuild its sales
15 June 2010

The new Aston Martin DB9 and Vantage will be crucial to Aston's future business plans, as the firm tries to rebuild sales when the economic recovery gets into its stride in 2011/12.

Ravaged by the global recession, sales have almost halved from the heady days of 2007, when they peaked at around 5500 units. Last year output fell back to around 3000 cars.

This year it is forecast to rise to 4000 units from its Gaydon factory, plus around 500 Rapides from Magna in Austria.

The pain might not all be over, however, because insiders report that the running rate at Gaydon in the first half of the year is lagging behind the targeted output.

Aston's production position is also more complex than it has been in recent years, due to the long-term manufacturing agreement it has signed with Magna for the Rapide.

Magna is said to be contracted to build 2000 Rapides a year for the next six years, a deal that guarantees Magna a fee of around £1600 for each car it builds. Pulling out of the contract is said to be likely to cost Aston up to £17m in compensation, figures that the firm prefers not to discuss.

The financial stability of Aston's biggest shareholder, the Kuwaiti firm Investment Dar, is also reported to be improving.

Dar, which bought 51 per cent from Ford in 2007, hit repayment problems on part of its £2.3bn of debt last year. This debt covers property, transport and finance investments, as well as Aston.

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Negotiations with around 80 per cent of its creditors are said to be close to settlement, according to a report in the Kuwaiti National newspaper. The other 20 per cent of debt holders - said to be a Kuwaiti and a Lebanese bank - are still holding out for a better deal than the five-year repayment schedule currently being offered.

But Kuwaiti authorities are said to be stepping in to complete the restructuring, which will put Aston Martin's future on a stronger footing.

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3

15 June 2010

Immediate attention to resale values would help give potential buyers greater confidence to purchase. Charging greedy premiums exploiting snobbery do not ensure a car company thrives.

15 June 2010

Aston are suffering from underfunding, Which produces a botch like the Rapide and means only minor tweaks to the DB9 until they can fund a proper update. Together with the ridiculous Cygnet, AM seem to making bad decisions and poorly executed cars. There has been a lot of damage to the brand in recent times. Time for new ownership to rescue what should be a great brand.

15 June 2010

Not convinced new ownership, unless it is by a company like VW would make that much of a difference.

Aston Martin have been and should remain a small sports car maker, it is one of the strongest brands out there.

I do feel for them, as they have limited options around development in terms of engines etc..

Expanding the range into overpriced smart cars and/or saloons is not the way to go. Concentrate on getting the three basic models right for the next generation launch- DBS ( needs to be more bespoke-not a tuned DB9), DB9 and Vantage and maybe look at producing a bespoke convertible model and also look at producing variants that like the scuderias, superleggaras are more focused towards hardcore drivers.

Look at the way Ferrari and Lambo execute thier strategy should give AM an idea of what they should be doing, though not an out and out sports manufacturer like those two, it needs to get the foundation of it's models right.

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