McLaren sees China’s exotic and premium slowdown as persistent image

Ever since the all mighty ruling Communist Party began cracking down on conspicuous extravagance late last year, McLaren Automotive Ltd. has said it has yet seen any signs of a recovery in demand in China.

The comments signal that the slowdown in Chinese demand for luxury, sapping sales of everything from Vacheron Constantin watches to Remy Martin cognac, will stretch into 2014. Lamborghini, Ferrari and Rolls-Royce have also voiced concerns since 2012 that China is no longer the driver of growth it was three years ago when it was pulling the world out of recession.

“The visibility that used to be an asset — we used to be OK just a few years ago — now it’s not really a plus,” Mirko Bordiga, regional director of the British supercar maker, said in an interview yesterday in Guangzhou, southern China. “There are many issues that are in the market that doesn’t really let us hope that the market is growing that much.”

McLaren, which forecasts its global sales to be little changed next year at about 1,400 vehicles, isn’t prepared to miss out on opportunities to promote its products to China’s rich. Like Bentley, McLaren chose to display its vehicles at this week’s Guangzhou auto show, a smaller affair than the flagship Beijing or Shanghai exhibitions, at the expense of participating in the biennial Tokyo motor show.

McLaren plans to triple the number of showrooms in the country to 12 in 2014, and will bank on the Chinese love for new brands and the racing team’s profile in Formula One to boost sales, Bordiga said.

Via Bloomberg