No Time to Die: Aston Martin’s executive chairman promises brand 'reset' at new model launch

Jill PetzingerJill Petzinger, Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Yahoo Finance UK
Aston Martin V12 Speedster.
Aston Martin V12 Speedster.

Aston Martin Lagonda (AML.L) set its troubles aside on Wednesday morning for a somewhat subdued livestream presentation of three new vehicles: the convertible Vantage Roadster, the luxury Q version of the DBX sports utility vehicle, and the limited edition V12 Speedster.

Like most car brands, whose new model debuts were thwarted after this week’s Geneva International Motor Show was cancelled, Aston staged the presentation at its headquarters in Gaydon, UK.

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The company’s future new executive chairman Laurence Stroll joined chief executive Andy Palmer for the online launch. The Canadian billionaire, who owns F1 team Racing Point, led a consortium to take a £500m capital raise, and a 16.7% stake in Aston last month.

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“We believe the company has the brand, products, engineering excellence, and potential to become one of the world’s preeminent luxury car brands in the years ahead,” said Stroll.

He said the core focus of the strategy is “to reset the business plan”.

“In doing so we will rebalance supply to reduce dealer inventories so they are aligned to customer demand,” Stroll said.

Stroll said that in the longer term, the company will focus of development of its mid-engine range of cars.  

“The investment we have made gives the company the financial security to reset the business…but we are bringing more than money,” Stroll said. “As many of you may know I have a long history of building luxury global brands in both the private and public sectors and as executive chairman I will ultimately be responsible for the strategy that we are implementing.”

Racing Point team owner—and Aston Martin rescuer—Lawrence Stroll pictured during Formula 1 Winter Testing in Barcelona on February 19, 2020. Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Racing Point team owner—and Aston Martin rescuer—Lawrence Stroll pictured during Formula 1 Winter Testing in Barcelona on February 19, 2020. Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The 107-year-old company last week reported a 53% rise in pre-tax losses in 2019 from the year before, to £104.3m ($134m), and an operating loss of £36.7m — compared to an operating profit of £72.8m in 2018.

Palmer last week described 2019 as “extremely challenging,” noting that “while retail sales grew, we were unable to generate the revenue and profits we had originally planned” and the company was facing “severe liquidity pressures” as a result. He added that the equity raise would “improve liquidity, stabilise the balance sheet, and provide a platform for the future.”

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It also announced that CFO Mark Wilson will step down by the end of April “by mutual agreement.”

Aston Martin Vantage Roadster.
Aston Martin Vantage Roadster.

The 503-bhp Roadster is the third in the Vantage lineup after the coupé, and the AMR. It should and should cost almost £127,000. The company says the roof will fold down faster than any other car on the market, and that it can do 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds, and achieve a top speed of 190mph.

The limited edition V12 Speedster, which has no windshield, boasts a 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 engine for 700 horsepower, and a top speed of 186mph.

Aston Martin, which is banking on the DBX selling big in China, is worried about the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on sales. “China is an important region for us,” Palmer told Bloomberg. “The release into China is quite late in the year, so we’ll hope and pray that the virus is done by then.”

Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings plc (AML.L) share price. Currency in GBP.
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings plc (AML.L) share price. Currency in GBP.

Aston shares have nosedived since the company listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2018.

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