Aston Martin losses grow as sales tumble at James Bond's carmaker

FILE PHOTO: An Aston Martin logo is displayed at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Carmaker Aston Martin AML.L, which has changed its boss and brought in a billionaire investor this year, posted a deeper first-half loss of 227 million pounds ($293 million) on Wednesday amid a slump in sales.

Its main factory, which closed during the lockdown, is not due to reopen until the end of August as the firm focussed on resuming production at a new site in Wales, where its first sport utility vehicle, the DBX, rolled off the line this month.

Renowned as James Bond’s carmaker of choice, the firm has had a difficult time since floating in 2018 as it failed to meet expectations and burnt through cash, prompting it to give a stake to a consortium led by billionaire Lawrence Stroll.

Since then it has announced job cuts, reduced inventories and picked a new chief executive among a series of changes, while it is also responding to the pandemic which contributed to a 41% drop in sales.

“It has been a challenging period with our dealers and factories closed due to COVID-19, in addition to aligning our sales with inventory with the associated impact on financial performance as we reposition for future success,” Stroll said.

The firm’s half-year pre-tax loss of 227 million pounds compares to a loss of 80 million pounds in the same period last year. Revenue fell by nearly two thirds to 146 million pounds.

The company said it had identified an accounting error in its U.S. region, meaning the firm’s loss was slightly deeper in 2019 with a reduction in earnings before interest and tax of 15.3 million pounds.

Aston’s first 4x4 is central to its turnaround plans as it enters a lucrative segment of the market in a bid to widen its appeal, including to more female buyers.

“We’re pleased with how it’s developing,” finance chief Ken Gregor told Reuters.

Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Alistair Smout and Edmund Blair