So how did you get into the leather work?
I was asked and didn’t refuse. And the interesting thing is you only need a sniff of what we do in the leather shop and it draws people in. So, people who have never worked with leather before get drawn towards it. Once you’re in, you start learning more day by day by day. I’ve made my own leathers. I went to find out how to make leather from skins so that I would understand everything about the technology, which is great, because you connect to the materials and it helps when I’m talking to customers to explain why our leathers are better than anybody else’s.
I was talking to a guy from another magazine this morning. And he said asked, "When you look at other cars, what do you like and what things do you not like?" The likes are easy, because I look around at all the different cars and I like the fact that their leather’s not as good as mine. It makes me a happy man. It’s because we went to a large distance when we were developing the Phantom that it had to really represent what we wanted from Rolls-Royce. It had to go back to that ethos that David Archibald spoke about, taking the best of what exists and making it better. But he didn’t finish the sentence: If it doesn’t exist, then invent it. That was the whole part of that Henry Royce quote.
In this case, the leather that had been used for historical Rolls-Royces had either gone, closed down, or wasn’t good quality anymore. We had to go back to the drawing board and find out what was the best thing on the market. See, you don’t look for automotive interiors, because they’re not good enough. So, you go to Milan and you look at furniture fairs, you look at what’s at the high end in yachts, you look at when people don’t have any limits on what they’re spending on a product made of leather, what do they go for? We found a father and son company in Germany supplying for furniture manufacturers supplying for yachts. They were a size of business that we could get involved with and we are about 60 percent of their business now. We are a big fish in a small pond. We are important to them and we have this symbiotic relationship where they continue to make fantastic, top-end leather for us, and we put it in the best motor cars in the world.