Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited Bentley Motors’ headquarters in Crewe today to see how the government’s Regional Growth Fund is helping the company.
Global sales at Bentley were up 37% year-on-year in 2011 with 7,003 cars delivered. Government funding went towards training new employees to meet and supply this increased demand for luxury vehicles stimulated by huge sales increases in China.
Bentley was the recipient of a grant just under £5m from the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) in 2011 for two applications.
The first sought to train and up-skill around 500 new workers at the Crewe plant with around half of this number already recruited and in training since the announcement of the funding in April 2011.
This £1.69m grant was followed by another successful RGF application for £3m in November 2011 to support the research and development of a new powertrain to enable it to expand into new and existing markets overseas.
Having completed due diligence, Mr Clegg toured the company’s R&D facility in Crewe which the firm says has helped to safeguard around 200 engineering jobs at the site which manufactures the Bentley Mulsanne and the new Continental GT.
Clegg met a number of Bentley Associates who have been recruited as a result of the RGF money and members of Bentley’s Apprenticeship programme.
“It is fantastic to be announcing 500 new and 200 protected jobs here in Crewe today. Creating jobs and growth is my number one priority for Britain right now,” said Clegg.
He added: “Today’s announcement is just the tip of the iceberg for the North West. All in all 47 bids to the Regional Growth Fund have been approved. This will mean over 13,000 new and protected jobs across the region and over 41,000 supply chain jobs.”
Wolfgang Dürheimer, Bentley’s chairman and chief executive, said: “We are greatly encouraged by his [Nick Clegg’s] comments that the manufacturing sector and companies like Bentley have a key role to play in developing a stronger and more balanced economy.”
Explaining how the funding would help, Mr Dürheimer commented: “First, it will help ensure that we have a skilled workforce we need to deliver our projects and remain globally competitive. Second, the R&D support enables us to work on a key engine development project that will help us expand in key markets.
Bentley exports over £500m worth of goods every year to established markets like the US, as well as emerging markets such as China and South America.
After a challenging year in 2011, the UK has started 2012 with a strong 16% sales increase. The Middle East has also significantly increased its sales performance by 55% with 93 cars delivered to customers.