Aston Martin is one of the world’s most iconic luxury carmakers, and is this year celebrating 100 years since Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford founded their automotive business in 1913. Today, the company is based in Warwickshire (UK), and boasts 146 dealerships in 41 countries. We spoke to Chairman David Richards CBE at the recent launch of Aston Martin’s 2013 racing programme.
LM: 2013 marks the 100-year anniversary of Aston Martin. What have been the most poignant moments?
DR: If you look back at 100 years of any company, there are some extraordinary highs and some obvious lows. I think for me, it’s all about the individuals that have made the brand, the characters that have peppered our history and none more so than David Brown. The unveiling of the DB Series back in the 50s, his wins at Le Mans, and his introduction of the DB5 into James Bond are all very significant moments in our history.
LM: Where do you see the company in 10 years’ time?
DR: I can see us building on the heritage that we have developed in the recent past. Today, we have a very strong product line-up, and we are respected as one of the world’s coolest brands. With the new technology coming along as well as a very serious investment programme over the next five years, I can only see us going from strength to strength.
LM: The luxury sector is facing challenging times. Do you think that the China bubble has burst? Is it still a strong market?
DR: It is going to be challenging for everybody. Aston Martin is not a fashion brand, but a style brand. It has now been there over many decades, and our customers are very loyal to us. Our products go to great acclaim wherever they are seen. Therefore, I feel very positive and confident about the future.
LM: The new Vanquish is clearly an object of beauty. How has the car been received to date?
DR: The Vanquish has had great applauds everywhere. We recently received a ‘European Supercar of the Year’ Award from French journalists in Paris.
LM: And about you David, what are your favourite luxury brands outside of Aston Martin? What catches your eye?
DR: I’m very humble in my other interests. I think Aston Martin has become very much a centre of my life. But other than that, I just like the simple things; simplicity in style and in design stands out of me in products, and like Aston Martin, objects with great history behind them as well, and those of course which have stood the test of time.
LM: What car do you drive now and have you built up a collection of classics over the years?
DR: I have had most of them and a wide range of Aston Martins. Today, I drive the Vanquish, but my normal car during the summer months is a DB6 Volante, exactly the same as what Prince Charles has got. That just stands for me as one of the all-time greats.
LM: Do you have any favourite watch brands?
DR: Jaeger-LeCoultre is a partner of ours, and they have built some wonderful timepieces around our racing and our products – the one that opens the door of your car, the other ones that reflect the heritage of Le Mans and racing behind them. Again, Jaeger-LeCoultre has been a key part of our brand.
LM: Are there are any luxury brands that you are keeping an eye on or that you aspire to?
DR: Not in the car area. I am more interested to watch how brands develop. Another partner brand of ours is Hackett, a company that has more humble beginnings and is more recent, but it just continues to go from strength to strength. I enjoy wondering around their stores to look at how they have evolved over the last decade.
LM: Thank you for your time David, and we look forward to more exciting developments from Aston Martin.