Aston Owners Thinking Bigger

Posted by: David Kiley on February 5, 2008

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DUBAI (Reuters) - Aston Martin could co-operate with Daimler AG’s Mercedes on ventures ranging from engines to new models, the British luxury carmaker’s majority shareholder, Kuwait’s Investment Dar, said on Tuesday.

Adham Charanoglu, business development manager for Investment Dar, which bought Aston Martin from Ford Motor Co last March, said it had held talks with Mercedes and with LVMH’s Louis Vuitton and PPR’s Gucci on branded merchandising.

Charanoglu told the Reuters Islamic Finance Summit that plans to overhaul Aston Martin merchandising had yet to be finished but included opening new centers dedicated to the marquee — made famous by James Bond — in the UK, the Gulf and possibly the U.S.

Any brand development would need to be at the top end of the luxury market, with opportunities stretching from apparel, owners’ events and track racing to real estate, Charanoglu said, adding Aston Martin’s merchandising revenue would rise from $100 million in 2006 to more than $300 million by 2009.

Investment Dar and its partners in Aston Martin, former Benetton and BAR racing boss David Richards and financier John Sinders, were looking to increase production to up to 8,000 cars in 2008 to 2009, from 7,000 a year in 2007, Charanoglu said.

This would begin to approach capacity levels of 9,000 at the Gaydon plant, where the Aston Martin is built, and Charanoglu said it was possible that new models or components could be produced in the future at factories elsewhere.

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