Sales boom for Rolls-Royce in Saudi Arabia

The Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII 8. The long-standing flagship of the Rolls-Royce range, the Phantom is in high demand in the Middle East region although the star of 2019 was the luxury four-wheel-drive Cullinan. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 09 January 2020

Sales boom for Rolls-Royce in Saudi Arabia

  • The US is the biggest global market for Rolls-Royce with about 30 percent of sales

DUBAI: Saudi Arabian car connoisseurs are buying the new Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV in their droves, according to record financial figures from the luxury car manufacturer.

Rolls-Royce, announced a 25 percent jump in sales across the world in 2019 to the highest level of sales in its 116 year history. But the increase in the Middle East was significantly higher at 29 percent.

Saudi Arabia is the second largest market in the region after the UAE, and Torsten Muller-Otvos, the global chief executive of Rolls-Royce, said that sales in the Gulf reflected the fact that regional economies were succeeding in their strategy of reducing dependence on the oil price.

“We saw it in the beginning that when oil prices slumped we also saw sales a bit weaker, due to the fact that the oil price fueled the economy of the entire Middle East. But now it is understood that oil cannot be the only driver of economics in these countries, and for that reason it’s normalizing.

“It’s a fact that oil prices are now lower, but people are getting used to it. Businessmen and women are getting accustomed to it. It’s the new normal and the entire luxury goods business is performing pretty well over last year,” he said.

The star of the 2019 performance was the luxury four-wheel-drive Cullinan, which sells for about SR1.8 million ($480,000) in its basic form, through most Rolls-Royce customers spend a lot more on customizing their vehicles through the Rolls-Royce “Bespoke” unit.

Muller-Otvos said that globally about 40 percent of the 2019 sales increase was due to the Cullinan, introduced just over a year ago, but the proportion was bigger in the Arabian Gulf region for the Cullinan.

“The Middle East is very strong on SUVs, and the Cullinan is a recipe for success there. Customers have told me that we have hit the nail on the head with the car,” he said.

The UAE — with high-selling dealerships in Dubai and Abu Dhabi — is the biggest market for Rolls-Royce in the Middle East, followed by Saudi Arabia, while Qatar and Kuwait compete for the third place.

The US remained the biggest global market in 2019, with about 30 percent of sales, followed by China with about 25 percent. 

The Middle East market share was more than 10 percent of the global total.

The long-standing flagship of the Rolls-Royce range, the Phantom, was also in high demand in the region, he said. The ten-year-old Ghost is being replaced by a new version, which will be on the market toward the end of the year.

Muller-Otvos said that Rolls- Royce makes a “meaningful contribution” to BMW finances, and is funding a big investment program at its Goodwood, UK, base, to prepare for the advent of electric Rolls-Royce models in the coming decade as well as to increase its capacity in bespoke engineering and design.

He added that the average age of a Rolls-Royce buyer had fallen significantly over the past decade, down from 56 years to 43 years, as the marque increases its appeal to women and young high-net-worth individuals.

Google Cloud prepares for Black Friday ‘peak on top of peak’

Updated 04 August 2020

Google Cloud prepares for Black Friday ‘peak on top of peak’

  • Cloud technology, used to host websites and store data, is a key part of many retailers’ e-commerce operations

OAKLAND, California: Alphabet’s Google Cloud unit is poised for a surge in fourth-quarter sales from US retailers, as they brace for record online shopping during the holidays because of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Cloud technology, used to host websites and store data, is a key part of many retailers’ e-commerce operations. As fees are often pegged to site traffic, a jump in activity will drive up revenue for the unit.
Carrie Tharp, vice president of retail and consumer at Google Cloud, said that her team had this year tossed out its linear growth model to predict how many servers it will need to process web orders for retailers around Black Friday.
“We’re planning for peak on top of peak,” she said on Monday. That could be a boon for Google Cloud, which has generated about 30 percent of its revenue during the fourth quarter the last two years.
Stores such as Kohls Corp. and Wayfair Inc. lean on Google months in advance to ensure it has enough servers to withstand increased shopping during holiday discount days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday in November and December.
This year, Black Friday-style demand has flooded shops since March, when the United States began lockdowns, Tharp said.
Holiday shopping is expected to boost demand further, as retailers including Target Corp. and Walmart Inc. have said they will reduce in-store hours because of coronavirus concerns.
Tharp said the pandemic has already benefitted Google Cloud, with some retailers adopting its predictive algorithms years ahead of plan to help them work out the most efficient way of fulfilling orders.
Electronics retailer Best Buy Co., for instance, announced on Tuesday a multi-year deal to centralize customer and product data with Google Cloud to improve its loyalty program and online ad campaigns.
The companies declined to elaborate on the deal, but Tharp said she hopes it leads to Google eventually powering Best Buy’s web ordering system.