On this edition of the podcast we chat to Paul Harris, Asia Pacific Director for Rolls-Royce Motorcars about his passion for automobiles from a young age, the importance of personalisation for luxury brands and the possibility of a fully electric Rolls Royce in the not too distant future. Unfortunately he wouldn’t spill all the beans on some of the interesting and often bizarre customisation requests the company gets from its well-heeled clientele - much to mine and Andrew’s disappointment!
Paul: [00:00:06] I'm Paul Harris. I am the current incumbent of [00:00:10] the very fortunate role of being the regional director for Rolls-Royce motor cars in Asia Pacific, for us, that covers everything really except for mainland China and Hong [00:00:20] Kong and Taiwan. So that's India all the way through to New Zealand and everything in between.
ry exciting very dynamic and [:
Suzy: [00:00:31] such a prestige heritage brand, Paul, it must be amazing to work for them. And how, how did you get into the business? Were you always a bit of a petrol [00:00:40] head . What brought you to where you are now?
In [00:01:00] 19, I think it was 1979 or 1980. And they set up a national sales company there and they said this glorious, fantastic piece of architecture up in an industrial [00:01:10] state with these fantastic cars in the showroom. I wasn't so sure that I wanted to work for a car company at that stage, obviously. But my father,
an engineer and he always, [:
So it's really unique, very personal experience and a [00:02:10] fantastic place to work.
Paul: [00:02:23] We operate a franchise model. So that means that the dealerships who sell our cars on our behalf are independent of us, [00:02:30] but they effectively sign up to a contract with us when I first came to the region and we were just about to launch the very first iteration of ghosts. I think at that time there was around about eight or nine dealers, [00:02:40] including China. I'm not so sure what the exact number in China anymore, because I sort of stopped looking after that back in 2013. But, but we in the region here alone have 15, [00:02:50] 16 retail and wholesale retail, wholesale service dealers.
ale in the region and also a [:
Suzy: [00:03:01] Wow. And how have the last few months been for both you personally, Paul and also for rolls Royce as a business, as a brand. [00:03:10]
Of course face-to-face meeting is the best type of communication, [00:03:40] particularly in a highly personalized brand, like rolls Royce. One is through, of course the power of video conferencing. The other is just me picking up the phone and speaking to our dealers [00:03:50] and customers directly and gaining their feedback and seeing how they are and just keeping in touch with them.
hat because we have a lot of [:
Suzy: [00:04:05] Yeah. And how has it been for you personally? Because I assume [00:04:10] pre pandemic, you were traveling a lot. Like a lot of people who, who were based here, a lot of their businesses across the region and they spend many hours on a plane or in hotels. So [00:04:20] how have you found the transition to being at home and not traveling so much?
Is it something that you've welcomed or do you miss the flying around.
Because it's very easy to sit at your desk all day long and look at your computer, but it's not very good for your body. So I've been very active and, forcing myself to do [00:05:00] things for at least an hour every single day, just to keep myself, fit fresh and thinking differently.
best as you can early in the [:
Andrew: [00:05:19] You've [00:05:20] spoken about rethinking things and looking at things again and finding new ways to do things , in the workplace and with your colleagues.
What about the brand has [:
Paul: [00:05:33] I think this period is relatively short, isn't it? In a sort of 10 year life cycle, even 20 year life cycle of rolls Royce. I [00:05:40] think that the brand in itself over the last 10 years has evolved massively. If you think about the constituent parts of a brand, it's the product. Plus it's the personality [00:05:50] and the combination of the product and the personality make a brand.
sh to celebrate success with [:
As we like to call it, that dynamic of individuals there is around about 250 to 300,000 of them globally. [00:06:10] And they grow around about between seven and 10% per annum, depending. Where you look at the data. So it's , truly, growing area of [00:06:20] global society. And that's the sort of area that we needed to appeal to.
le of the brand. Everyone, I [:
And we did have some of those, [00:06:40] but we wanted more of them. So we looked at the brand and thought, okay, what could we do ? So the first thing we did was introduced the new ghost, which was of course the first of the, what we call the business type of ghost.
So the everyday usable [:
Andrew: [00:06:59] What [00:07:00] I've learned about rolls Royce is that it's quite a lot to do with the change in perception, because the old idea of the [00:07:10] rolls Royce is that it is a sort of old man's car that you get driven around in. Whereas there is a a perception change going on [00:07:20] now to turn.
e. And I think the Wraith is [:
suzy_1_10-21-2020_143812: [00:07:48] can
rolls Royce probably is not [:
Andrew: [00:08:07] Have you achieved that perception [00:08:10] change? Has your audience, your customer changed?
And I think that only when the man on the streets, a attitude or a opinion of rolls Royce is something some [00:08:40] somewhat different from what you've said, then I think it, we would have succeeded. It's not something that we have got there yet, and it's something that we will continue to work on
And I guess [00:09:10] that leads me into a question. All car brands are having to look at the minute, which is sustainability. So I'm really interested to hear from you what's rolls [00:09:20] Royce's position on sustainability. And what do you think where do you think you're headed on that front of the next five or 10 years?
It's a, it's a factory that's built inside a disused quarry
Paul: [00:09:51] . It's an architectural building designed by a very famous architect in that way, because we it's very much the home of rolls Royce. So , we treat you as our home and we bring our [00:10:00] clients to our home. So it's very much, Built with that in mind. It as a full green living roof. The majority of water, if not all of the water in the plant is [00:10:10] completely recycled and captured and we use extraction and cooling ponds within the facility, it has its own ecosystem that exists within the plant. And we even have our own bees produce [00:10:20] honey inside, Rolls-Royce as
Paul: [00:10:24] Yeah, precisely. I wouldn't say, I wouldn't say it's a commercial enterprise, but it's certainly, you should describe it as a farm kitchen [00:10:30] enterprise. So really interesting place to go and therefore, everything that we do is very, very driven by the way that we try and protect and manage our waste and [00:10:40] our energy efficiency in the factory.
plant by individuals, not by [:
I think probably around about 50% of the [00:11:00] normal car usage or less. So therefore the impact on the environment for us relatively speaking is relatively minimal, but of course we meet all of the EU standards.
Rolls Royce is [:
And we actually took it on tour and we interviewed customers. We [00:11:30] interviewed journalists and got feedback from them, and that's all gone into the melting pot in terms of what should we do and when should we do it and how should we do it? And I think that [00:11:40] it's very good, very clear knowledge now that we will see the first electric rolls Royce and by electric, I mean a hundred percent electric, not a compromise,
not, uh, Uh, not, a [:
It would be a hundred percent electric car during this
That That's amazing. Okay. Right. So right. Let's get down to worth individual. [00:12:00] Okay. I'm one of those people you were talking about.
onalization. Alan Partridge. [:
Paul: [00:12:19] Well, there's [00:12:20] nothing more individual than you is there. So I suppose what is a representation
Andrew: [00:12:26] about in it, but you can high spec car.
So if we take the Phantom eight, best rolls Royce [00:13:00] on the road that as this thing called a gallery in the front of it. And that gallery is your own individual space where you can seal a piece of artwork within your car?
That is. To [:
[00:13:20] Andrew: [00:13:19] it's absolutely
So you wanted to use it for near, , from my cherry [00:13:30] type of wood that we did not offer. And so we had to then of course, season it and let it age. And that's a sort of four or five year process by the time we finished. So that's how [00:13:40] patient that individual was.
Andrew: [00:13:48] I hate to probably be a musical [00:13:50] theme, try and fit a drum kit in there.
Suzy: [00:13:56] So Paul, we ask all of our guests [00:14:00] to give our listeners some recommendations on what they're listening to reading and watching at the moment.
Suzy: [00:14:25] oh, I love it.
If you get a chance, listen to Cathy Burke, because her luxury item was the funniest I've ever heard.
Paul: [00:14:50] Yes.
Paul: [00:14:55] And then in terms of reading at the moment, because we haven't been able to travel so much this year and I sort of missed it, [00:15:00] I have been digging out some old classics and I've dug out some of the bill Bryson books and I've been reading some of
Paul: [00:15:08] date nights, Mr. Moreland was probably [00:15:10] his most famous ones, but the little dribbling is the one that I've just been reading at the moment, which is, which is very funny because he has a very distinct reference in there to, uh, one of the, one of the chapters is about Boca Regis, [00:15:20] which is just around the corner from our home of Goodwood.
sh towns, because he sees it [:
Andrew: [00:15:33] You are so right. It's just that kind of outsider's perspective, but he's just [00:15:40] such an eloquent writer and he makes, gosh, he's laugh out loud. Funny whilst you're reading a book, you'll have people looking at you. Like you're a [00:15:50] total idiot. If you're in a public place, he's just, I've been, I've cried, laughing at this stuff.
Andrew: [00:16:17] yeah, rather than a kind of cynical, [00:16:20] cynical, angry way.
Andrew: [00:16:24] Well, have you been watching.
So he's done this one where he's unfortunately the survivor of a woman. Unfortunately passed away from cancer.
Paul: [00:16:40] After
life. That is
Paul: [00:16:44] it is good. And it's very honest would be the way I describe it in terms of the way that it's portrayed. [00:16:50]
That's it from the Paul Harris repertoire, some of which you've heard before, some of which you may have not seen, I wasn't going to recommend my own personal poetry publications because of course they clean
Andrew is plugging
ess all the time on here. So [:
Suzy: [00:17:31] yeah. Thanks, Paul. Yes, I've learnt so much, you know, I thought I knew things about rolls Royce, but I already knew the tip of the iceberg. So it's been super interesting. Thank [00:17:40] you.