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Interview: Derek Bennett, Jack Barclay Bentley

Time 5:11 am, October 25, 2013

Screen shot 2013-10-18 at 16.17.35LEON Poultney asks the general manager of dealer Jack Barclay, Berkeley Square, London, about the updated luxurious Flying Spur.

Tell us a few facts about Jack Barclay…

It’s the oldest and most successful Bentley dealership in the UK. The Bentley Boys frequently used the premises to party after racing their machines.

What do you think about the change of direction with this car?

I think customers are going to like this car as feedback has told us that they were looking for a vehicle that featured the ride quality of an Arnage but with the luxurious qualities of a Mulsanne.

This car has covered all of those customer requirements: A softer ride in the back, a quieter ride in the cabin and more comfortable seats in the rear without compromising on luxury or performance.

Bentley is marketing this as a 200mph saloon, why is that?

Because it is! You can hit the buttons, play with the settings and you have a very fast car. Customers need to know a Bentley can do this; it’s part of the brand philosophy, to be the fastest and the best.

Some critics will say it has deliberately been made more comfortable in the rear for the Chinese market, how will UK customers react to this?

Firstly, anything Bentley can do to add more luxury anywhere on a car is a good thing and, secondly, I don’t think the changes are obvious. It is still a very fast and very capable car that is just as enjoyable to drive as it is to be driven in.

Have you had a lot of interest so far?

We’ve had a lot of interest in this car already and although I couldn’t possibly reveal how many we plan to sell this year,

I can say we’ve already got quite a few months pre-sold now. I don’t think this car will have any problem selling — it sells itself.

What has the general buzz been like with staff here at Jack Barclay?

Everyone has reacted very, very positively towards the product. All staff here have had the chance to drive the car, we make sure that everyone across the dealership gets the chance to experience any new product we receive and that includes the parts and servicing department.

This is an important car for us; a big four-door saloon is typically suited to London-based customers so we need everyone here to be reading from the same hymn sheet.

Are there any particular sales methods you will adopt for this sort of car?

There is no particular sales method but the most important thing is to have the customer drive the car on the roads they are likely to encounter on a daily basis so they feel familiar and at home in it.

If the customer hasn’t closed on the first test drive, we may allow for a longer drive or even a weekend loan so they can really get to grips with the product.

I think a lot of customers want to feel the ride quality in the back so we have three chauffeurs on the premises that are always ready to take a customer out.

Personalisation has become a very important factor when it comes to buying a car – have you found this with your customers?

Definitely, we’ve found that especially true on the early adopters, they like to add their own personalisation touches.

In fact, all of the cars we have coming through are bespoke and made to order. On average, customers will spend at least £8,000 to £9,000 on personal touches to the car.

Customers who opt for a factory tour always end up spending more on their vehicles, too. They will see something at the factory and just have to have it; it’s like being in a sweet shop for them.

What do you think the split is between customers who buy the car to driven in and customers who buy the car to drive?

I have been told that 90 per cent of Bentley owners still drive and around 10 per cent prefer to ride in their car.

But there has been an increase in ‘chauffeur-on- demand’ services where customers will drive the car at a weekend but they opt to be driven during the week.

We’ve found that a lot more Bentley owners will drive their cars than, say, Rolls-Royce owners, for example, who usually purchase a vehicle to be driven around in.

Click here to read our road test of the new Bentley Flying Spur


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