Luxury carmaker Bentley sees sales rise 37% in 2011

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Media captionAlasdair Stewart, Bentley: "There's more potential in China"

Luxury carmaker Bentley has reported a 37% rise in sales in 2011, saying demand has returned to pre-recession levels.

The Crewe-based firm sold 7,003 cars, whose prices start at £133,000 ($208,000), in the year to 31 December.

The US continues to be Bentley's number one market with 2,021 cars sold in 2011, an increase of 32%.

However, China took second spot with sales almost doubling to 1,839, surpassing the previous year's record.

"It has been particularly pleasing to see renewed interest in Bentley in established as well as in new and emerging markets, all of which is contributing to a positive financial result for 2011," said Bentley's chairman and chief executive, Wolfgang Duerheimer.

"We want that success to continue and, with a new Continental V8 model set to attract new customers in 2012, have ambitious but realistic plans which reflect global economic conditions."

In December, Bentley sales rose 69% to 1,059, compared to the same month in 2010.

The month's figures were boosted by the first deliveries of the new Continental GTC model, which was launched to the public in October.

December's figures were the best since Bentley's record year of 2007 and the second best month in its history.

However, the firm is still negotiating with unions over an ongoing pay dispute.

In December, staff at the Bentley factory in Crewe rejected a two-year pay deal.

The Unite union had recommended the 2,700 workers accepted the offer of a 4% rise for the first year and 3% in the next.

Bentley is owned by Volkswagen Group.

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