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April 6, 2018

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Automobili Lamborghini, the super sports car producer headquartered in Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy, is on track to have another record performance in 2008 as it continues to add dealerships worldwide, expand its position in licensing and merchandising, and fortify its reputation as a global luxury and lifestyle brand. i1_461.jpg

While it has been a summer of blockbuster hits at the box office, it has also been a blockbuster summer for Automobili Lamborghini. Over the past few months, the legendary Italian automaker introduced a new model, the Gallardo LP560-4, opened several new dealerships including a restaurant and retail destination store on the Las Vegas Strip, signed a deal with I-Tunes, teamed with Italian fashion leader Versace for an apparel collection, garnered publicity as its Murcielago LP640 coupe was featured as Bruce Wayne's car in the Warner Bros. summer hit movie, The Dark Knight, and this month the automaker named a new worldwide licensing agent. i2_186.jpg

So, despite the slowing economies in many countries that have impacted the auto industry as well as the retail industry, particularly in the U.S. and U. K., Automobili Lamborghini is bucking the downturn and actually expanding its global presence in the automotive sector, in retail and in licensed merchandise. i3_101.jpg

The company introduced this summer a new model auto, Gallardo LP560-4, base priced at slightly over $200,000, and is committed to a goal of launching a new model every year. In fact, the automaker is reportedly developing a lower-priced model that would compete directly with many of it sports car competitors, including Porsche. i4_71.jpg

And while the Italian automaker is not among this year's Top 100 BrandZ ranking of the world's most powerful brands, (see story on page 64) the company does have a tremendous opportunity to expand its brand reputation and value. For example, rival automaker Porsche is ranked at No. 28 with a brand value of $21.7 billion. Parent Volkswagen was ranked No. 96 with a brand value of $7.1 billion. And other rival Ferrari didn't make the list either. i5_62.jpg

Furthermore, despite the belt-tightening and cautious spending among consumers, luxury brands continue to remain strong, providing Automobili Lamborghini with the opportunity to strengthen its niche among sports car aficionados and to attract new upscale, aspirational consumers. i6_44.jpg

The record financial performance of Automobili Lamborghini, which is part of Volkswagen that also includes Audi, Bentley and Bugatti, provides a strong foundation for expansion and brand extensions in licensing while reinforcing the fact that this once-troubled automaker is a very different company than it was just a few years ago. i7_34.jpg

Last year, Automobili Lamborghini reported record deliveries, sales and net profit—autos delivered increase by 15 percent to 2,406 autos; sales increased 35 percent to €467 million ($670 million U.S.); and net profit increased 160 percent to €47.1 million ($67 million U.S.). For the first six months of 2008, Automobili Lamborghini reported deliveries were up 5.7 percent; sales increased by 10 percent to €277 million ($397 million U.S.); pre-tax profit increased 32.5 percent to €35 million ($50 million U.S.). In addition, eight new dealerships opened in the first half of this year including the combination retail store and restaurant in Las Vegas, bringing the total number of dealerships to 114 compared to only 65 in 2004, when the company delivered only 1,305 autos.

"Only three years after the turnaround of the company and after several consecutive record years, we are in a good position to achieve another record year," says Stephan Winkelmann, president and chief executive officer. "At the same time, we are proud of having established our luxury car brand within the elite group of highly profitable car manufacturers. But we have not finished our job, and remain relentlessly committed to growing both profitability and our international brand presence." i8_22.jpgi8_t_9.jpg

This month's appointment of boutique licensing agency, MC Licensing, based in Pasadena, Calif., as worldwide licensing agent for all product categories, further demonstrates Winkelmann's commitment to growing the brand and leveraging its popularity and value worldwide. MC Licensing, which was recently formed by licensing industry veteran Marlene Cuesta (previously vice president of licensing for Jada Toys), will work directly with Maria Lucia Lazzarini, head of licensing for Automobili Lamborghini. The first phase will focus on a licensing campaign in apparel that will hit retail stores in fall 2009 followed by furniture, home décor and other categories reflected in the automaker's existing merchandise assortment. Two apparel programs, with one focusing on the luxury upscale products for specialty boutiques and a more casual lifestyle collection for department stores, are planned.

Since 2005, Automobili Lamborghini has more than tripled its revenue for its brand collection to over €10 million ($14 million U.S.) and believes it will continue to grow significantly over the next several years based on aggressive expansion and marketing.

The automaker is already merchandising an extensive collection of apparel (H2J), such as Winkelmann is wearing in the accompanying photo. The co-branding of Hydrogen and Automobili Lamborghini College Series features a polo shirt and a fur-trimmed sweatshirt. The Soul Vintage series, which revisits the original Lamborghini style of the 1970s, includes a soft hooded sweatshirt with nostalgic patches and soft-washed long-sleeved cotton polo with corduroy insets. The Revention series, which was inspired by the limited-edition Revention auto, features a waterproof heat-sealed jacket and a tri-color long-sleeved polo shirt.

In addition, an exclusive apparel and accessories collection with Versace, which complements the special-edition Lamborghini Murcielago LP 640 Roadster Versace model, will be available this fall in Versace boutiques and selected Lamborghini dealerships.

For Automobili Lamborghini, it's as much about the brand and the lifestyle as it is about the autos as evidenced during the unveiling of the new Gallardo. The launch event, dubbed "Always Different. Always Lamborghini," featured an eclectic, well-choreographed presentation that included a fashion show spotlighting the automaker's apparel collection.

Another example of the company's focus on luxury brand extensions and the Lamborghini lifestyle was the debut last month of the first combination dealership, restaurant and retail store at the Venetian's new Palazzo hotel and casino complex in Las Vegas. The 20,000-square-foot, two-story facility, which overlooks the Las Vegas Strip, features a showroom with more than a dozen autos, a fashion boutique featuring the Collezione Lamborghini, and a full-service Italian restaurant called Dal Toro.

"The opening of the first Collezione Automobili Lamborghini boutique brings a new level of luxury to Las Vegas that epitomizes the Lamborghini lifestyle," says Winkelmann. "Lamborghini super sports cars and fine Italian fashion go hand-in-hand."

Based on its location, it obviously caters to a diverse crowd of tourists, auto enthusiasts, and high rollers that again exemplifies the popularity of the sports cars and the potential of the brand extensions worldwide.

Automobili Lamborghini should not be confused with Tonino Lamborghini, which is a totally separate entity operated by the son of the original automaker. Tonino Lamborghini, represented by Global Icons, has a wide range of non-automotive-related licensed products including for the mass market an energy drink dubbed "Power of the Myth" and a men's fragrance by Coty currently carried by Wal-Mart Canada.

Other recent projects include Automobili Lamborghini's deal with iTunes offering free pod casts about its vehicles, the featured marque at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, a showcase of rare and prestigious autos, and the appearance in The Dark Knight.

The multitude of initiatives by Automobili Lamborghini not only reinforces the super sports car company's commitment to the growth and expansion worldwide of its autos, licensing and merchandising, but also testimony to the dynamic that a luxury brand can thrive in tough economic times and a highly competitive retail marketplace.

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