Aston Martin has survived 7 bankruptcies. Now it wants you to invest in it.

For a storied automaker like Aston Martin, it’s hard to imagine that at one time the company was making just five cars a week at its original location in Newport Pagnell, England.

Best known as the getaway car of James Bond, Aston Martin has a complicated history includes a long line of owners -- and seven bankruptcies.

Andy Palmer, CEO since 2014, has steered the 105-year-old automaker through a hairpin turn by taking it public -- the first listing of a U.K. carmaker on the London Stock Exchange in three decades.

"The [initial] feedback from investors was better than expected," Evercore ISI auto analyst Arndt Ellinghorst told ABC News.

Aston Martin did a good job "selling the dream" to investors, he added, noting that Ferrari did the same in 2015 when it pitched itself as a luxury goods maker to Wall Street.

But the company will need to reassure investors that its aggressive growth strategy will not face any serious roadblocks, Ellinghorst said.

"Aston Martin has never really made money," he said. "It's really now about the execution of the plan. Aston Martin has to deliver."

Under Palmer's Second Century Plan, Aston Martin will debut a new model every year for the next seven years.

So far, three models have launched -- the DB11, DBS Superleggera and Vantage. The next model will be Aston Martin's first-ever SUV in 2019, followed by a mid-engine supercar and the all-electric, hyper-exclusive Rapide E sedan -- of which only 155 will be made.

The company's turnaround efforts were initially a culture shock to its 2,500 employees, according to Mike Duffy, Europe Editor of Car and Driver magazine.

"Aston Martin was traditionally a small-minded company," he told ABC News. "Its customers were 'old money.' It produced tiny volumes of cars."

Part of that small-minded culture stemmed from a lack of investment.

"There was a sense that design and engineering worked in slightly different universes," Duffy said. "New models came infrequently. Andy brought big company thinking to a small company ... and a cadre of senior engineers and marketing types from elsewhere."

Some of those hires were the biggest names in the industry: Matt Becker, Lotus' head of vehicle dynamics, left to join Aston Martin as its chief engineer. Chris Goodwin, McLaren's legendary chief test driver, now does the same for Aston. Palmer's right-hand man, Simon Sproule, reportedly gave up Tesla stock options to become Aston's vice president and chief marketing officer.

"There's a strong element of 'What makes my enemies weaker makes me stronger' in the hiring," Duffy said.

At Aston's state-of-the-art facility in Gaydon, England, factory workers hand-build 25 sports cars a day -- a number that will be significantly ramped up to meet the lofty sales figures the company has promised investors.

Aston Martin said it expects to deliver between 6,200 and 6,400 vehicles this year, up from 5,117 in 2017 and 3,229 in 2016.

Those numbers jump to 7,100 to 7,300 by Dec. 31, 2019, and 9,600 to 9,800 by 2020. Thirty percent of sales are in the U.K., while the U.S. composes 25 percent.

Aston Martin spokesman Matt Clarke dismissed the production concerns raised by analysts, saying the company has been furiously hiring workers to keep up with demand. An additional 1,200 employees have been added to the payroll since the launch of the Second Century Plan, and the company’s global headcount will reach 5,000 by 2022.

"We stand by what's in the prospectus," he told ABC News.

Some of these new employees will be stationed at Aston Martin’s new manufacturing site in Wales. The DBX SUV will be manufactured there as well as Aston Martin’s Lagonda vehicles. Aston Martin executives are revamping Lagonda, which was acquired in 1947, as the world’s first luxury zero-emissions marque.

John Muirhead, Aston's former brand communications manager, said the company struggled for years to survive.

"We had bigger issues with older management [but] the product right now is as good as it can be," he told ABC News as he led a tour of the bustling Gaydon factory. "Our new custodians have invested millions in us."

Muirhead, who spent 19 years with Aston Martin, said the company could do more to publicize its name.

"We realize not everyone knows who we are," he said. "Aston is about craftsmanship, performance, luxury and exclusivity."

Laura Schwab, president of Aston Martin of the Americas, said the positive response to the company's latest products have reenergized the brand.

"Each new car has its own personality and appeals to different people," she told ABC News. "We continue to let people know about our lineup."

Aston, beloved by cinephiles for its decades-long association with the James Bond franchise, has a dedicated fan base, Duffy said, though it's "a little less fanatical" than Porsche and Ferrari.

"I certainly can't think what the Aston equivalent of 'tifosi' would be," Duffy said. "Older Astons attract collectors like no comparable brand except Ferrari."

Dominik Dybala, general sales manager at Glenview Luxury Imports outside Chicago, said Aston's Vantage sports car has already caught the eye of die-hard Porsche fans.

"Porsche customers are always hard to convert to any brand, and with the Vantage it has been a cake walk," he told ABC News. "The Vantage is a true sports car. That alone will attract a younger crowd of people."

Newer models are just one part of Aston's comeback. The company has announced plans for a mid-engine sports car to compete with Ferrari, McLaren and Lamborghini. And its "continuation" cars -- the DB4 GT and DB5 -- have attracted attention from deep-pocketed auto enthusiasts who can drop $2.5 million on a limited-edition vehicle.

"Aston spreading itself into new markets means there's serious appetite for growth," Duffy said. "The company was sitting on the sideline, suffering from lack of investment. I am very optimistic about its plan."

Schwab said she welcomed the comparisons to Ferrari that some in the media have made since Aston Martin went public.

"Ferrari is a great brand, and it's great to be compared to them," she said. "But we have something unique."

 

October 11, 2018

Sources: ABC News

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    Barclays customers can now 'switch off' from five types of problem spending

    stomers the ability to 'switch off' certain areas of problem spending, such as gambling and premium rate numbers.</p><p>The new tool will be available to customers who use the Barclays Mobile Banking app - which is linked directly to their debit card - and is designed to help customers manage their money better.</p><p>The idea behind the development is to help vulnerable customers, including those who suffer from mental health issues, such as addiction, as well as those who rely on their carers or a guardian to look after their finances.</p><p>Blocked: Barclays have now introduced a tool so customers can 'switch off' certain retailers</p><p>Catherine McGrath, managing director at Barclays, said: 'We are always looking for new ways to support our customers and make it easier for them to manage their finances.</p><p>'We work with a range of advisers and partners, as well as consulting with our customers, to identify how our customers' needs are changing and what works for them.</p><p>'This new control feature is the latest new service that we have introduced in the Barclays Mobile Banking app that aims to give all of our customers a better way to manage their money in a simple, secure and effective way.'  </p><p>A button with the Barclays mobile banking app now means customers can choose what they wish to be authorised, which in turn means that any attempted payments made within the 'turned off' category will be automatically declined.</p><p>There are five retailer categories that customers can control: </p><p>- Gambling (to include gambling websites and betting shops); </p><p>The categories were chosen based on research by the bank into areas that customers would most like to manage, as well as consultation with advisers, such as the Money Advice Trust.</p><p>New feature is designed to help vulnerable customers including those with problem gambling</p><p>It also looked at building on published evidence from organisations such as the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, as well as GambleAware. </p><p>Marc Etches, chief executive of GambleAware, said: 'We welcome this initiative by Barclays, which we hope will encourage other banks to do the same. </p><p>'There are 430,000 problem gamblers in Britain and a further 2million at risk, and initiatives like this can play an important role in helping to reduce gambling-related harms. </p><p>'There are no limits to stakes and prizes for online gambling, and credit cards are allowed so it is important to make it easier for people to control their spending.' </p><p>Taking control: This is what will appear on Barclays customer's mobile banking app</p><p>Not only is the new feature designed to help customers manage their money, it is also thought it will help reduce the risk of fraud and scams.</p><p>Other safety features introduced for Barclays debit card holders over the past year include the ability to set a daily cash machine withdrawal limit as well as turning off the ability to make purchases online and via the phone.</p><p>The new tool is now available to all Barclays debit card customers and will be rolled out to credit card holders in the near future.  </p><p>Chris Fitch, vulnerability lead at the Money Advice Trust, said: 'Technology that meets everyday banking needs, while recognising the challenges many of us face in our lives, is the way forward. </p><p>'Giving everyone more control is the key to achieving this – whether this is someone who wants to be less vulnerable to fraud, or a customer who is trying to take charge of their gambling.' </p><p>Although it is the first high street bank to offer such a service, challenger banks such as Starling and Monzo have already tested out similar tools on their platforms.</p><p>Both banks offer the feature to their current account holders and both are banks in which customer's accounts are operated by a mobile phone app.</p><p>Starling users opt in to the feature within their app and while it's switched on, every time they try to use their card with a registered gambling merchant, it will be declined.</p><p>Monzo, however, allows its customers to block gambling transactions at any time through the app or, alternatively, by contacting their customer service team through its in-app chat feature.  </p><p> The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. 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    1 December 11, 2018

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