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Bentley COO: We invested during the crisis, and now we're stronger than ever

"You cannot compromise the brand," President and COO Christophe Georges said.

Bentley motor show1Enlarge
People discover the new Bentley Flying Spur at the Geneva International Motor Show on March 5, 2013, which opened its doors under a dark cloud with no sign of a speedy rebound in sight for the troubled European market. (Sebastien Feval/AFP/Getty Images)

Bentley is having a very good year and a half, and its COO says its recent success dates back to 2008.

During the crisis that nearly killed America's largest automakers, Bentley chose to spend, investing in new cars and keeping all of its dealerships open.

The result, President and COO Christophe Georges told us in a meeting Tuesday, is that the luxury car company has grown tremendously. It just reported its first quarter sales are up 25 percent.

Crisis, Georges said, "always creates opportunities," and it's not the time to cut the quality of the product, at least not in the luxury market.

"Whatever the stress is in your market, you cannot compromise the brand," he said, adding, "We didn’t compromise on customer satisfaction. We didn’t compromise on the brand. We didn’t lose our network, and we invested in new products."

Those products include the second generation Continental GT and the Mulsanne, the brand's flagship sedan that launched in 2010.

Despite a weak auto market in Europe (where Georges does not expect things to get better "anytime soon,"), Bentley's sales have steadily trended up since 2009. The US is the brand's largest market, and it is making big strides in expanding markets like China and Russia.

With a powerful new sedan — the Flying Spur — set to his dealers this summer, Bentley is poised for more growth.

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