Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (FRA:BMW) says it will open Rolls Royce showrooms in Manila and Hanoi by the end of the year.
“We’ve come in right at the beginning of a growth we see continuing. Given the combination of stability, the growth rate and the overall business atmosphere, it would be wrong for us to come to the Philippines at any other time,” Paul Harris, head of Asia-Pacific operations for BMW’s ultra-luxury car segment, told Bloomberg from Manila on Thursday.
Filipino businessman Willy Tee Ten and his Autohub Group will be the British carmaker’s distributor. "We have several inquiries already," he told the Manila Bulletin.
This move into Southeast Asia is a sign of the rising number of super-rich in countries that just a decade ago couldn’t have supported a significant market for $200,000 cars.
But these economies have grown in recent years, helped along by rock-bottom interest rates in the U.S. that have pushed up regional equity markets and Europe’s debt crisis that has Western business looking eastward in search of gains in developing economies. Along the way the number of luxury goods makers and sellers has risen, and not just in China.
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Rolls-Royce recently opened second showrooms in Taiwan and Bangkok, and other luxury automakers like Bentley, Lamborghini and Porsche already have retail operations in Manila, the capital of a country where 28 percent of the population lives in poverty, according to official figures, a rate that hasn’t budged since 2006. Further, 60 percent of Filipinos die without ever having been to a doctor.
But while the lowest income earners haven’t seen much mobility, the number of individuals with investable assets of more than $1 million rose more than 9 percent on average across Asia last year, according to RBC Wealth Management and Capgemini SA.
And for the luxury goods market, all that matters is if a country has enough top earners to help boost their bottom lines.