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McLaren in the black for the first time

Henry Foy

Supercar manufacturer McLaren made a profit for the first time last year, as the British company cashed in on demand for its £1m P1 model and a boom in Asian demand.

McLaren will expand its range into a lower-cost sports car next year in an effort to compete with larger rivals such as Porsche and Ferrari, as the company looks to more than double revenues by 2016.

Sebastien Feval | AFP | Getty Images

The carmaker, which builds just seven cars a day at its Surrey factory, made a net profit of £4.5m in 2013, according to financial documents seen by the Financial Times, as revenue rose 7 per cent to £285.4m, ahead of target.

McLaren expects revenue of about £500m this year because of increased sales of its exclusive P1, and £750m in two years, according to two people at the company.

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The manufacturer, which assembles its models by hand in a body shop with no conveyors or robots, plans to more than double its daily output by 2016 with the launch of its P13 model, a £135,000 sports car designed to expand its target market beyond millionaires and motorheads.

"My job is to make this company a sustainable proposition," Mike Flewitt, chief executive, told the FT. "But what we will not do is oversupply. This is not a volume proposition for us, so we will be quite careful.

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"P13 will take sales from competitors but it will also grow the total market," Mr Flewitt said, adding that the new car will borrow technology and parts from McLaren's £195,000 650S model.

McLaren also plans a future model priced at about £350,000, designed to fit between the P1, which is a car limited to 375 vehicles that can go from 0 to 100km in 2.8 seconds, and the 650S.

The company, which was spun out of the McLaren Formula 1 team in 2009, expects to increase its profits in 2014, according to Mr Flewitt, and will increase investment in research and development to £80m, from £70m last year.

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McLaren will increase its headcount by 20 per cent to 1,500 by the end of 2015, mainly in the UK.

McLaren is one of a clutch of high-end British carmakers whose fortunes have risen in recent years thanks to huge overseas demand for their models, alongside the likes of Jaguar Land Rover, BMW's Mini and Bentley.

McLaren exports 92 per cent of its production. The company had just over 50 dealerships in January, will have 72 by the end of the year and more than 100 by 2018, with the bulk of the additions in Asia, a fertile market for high-end carmakers.