Rolls-Royce Middle East: Life is a roller coaster

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Every morning after his daily exercise Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes drives over to his office in Goodwood in a two-tone powder and dark blue Rolls Royce-Ghost. For the 52-year old German CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, there couldn’t be a better job.

“There’s no typical day. There’s a lot of travelling,’’ says Mueller-Oetvoes, who on average spends two weeks of every month on the go to stay on top of what’s going on in the company. “If I am in Goodwood it’s a lot of talking, discussions, and a lot of meetings. When I am travelling I’m very much visiting customers, visiting our dealers. It’s probably one of the most rewarding jobs in the world because it has so many different facets in its daily jobs.”

And one does need to be a car enthusiast to run the company to an extent, he says.

“You need to understand the car business... that this business is not a typical car business and that this is a luxury goods business,” says Mueller-Oetvoes. “You need to have a feeling for discerning people, you need to understand technology and how we can meet certain customer demands.”

Mueller-Oetvoes, who has spent 25 years of his life at the group, has been at the helm of the luxury car maker unit of BMW since 2010, and has seen it report record sales year after year across the globe.

“I’m in close contact with our customers,” he says. “You need to be in daily contact with your customers and prospects to understand what they would like to see tomorrow.”

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars sold 3,575 units  globally last year, a record for annual sales in the company’s 108-year history and the third year in a row it had achieved a new benchmark for sales. That, by any measure, is pretty impressive let alone for a company that employs 1,200 people.  Even more impressive is that it takes over 500 hours to build a Rolls-Royce and as many as 800 hours for cars delivered to clients in the Middle East depending on their bespoke content.

“It’s like a diamond; perfectly polished,” says Mueller-Oetvoes. “They [his customers] are entrepreneurs, they are captains of industry, prominent people from the film and sports business — all kinds of people.”

The Middle East market grew 26 percent annually with highest demand for bespoke content coming from the region. It was the best-performing market globally in 2012, with the dealerships in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia among the top five bestselling dealers around the world.

“We see a lot of very flamboyant, I would say, colour combinations especially for the Middle East market,” says Mueller-Oetvoes. “Many of our customers down here spend quite substantial time specifying and developing interesting ideas for their cars. Many of them even travel to Goodwood where our plant is to get further consultation by our designers. What you would see from the Middle East market is quite often very bright colours and also incredible ideas regarding family crests, embroidery in the car.”

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