STOCKHOLM, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Geely-owned Volvo Car Group said on Wednesday it expected sales to hit a fresh record this year after reporting sharply higher earnings and revenues for 2016 as strong demand for new models developed under Chinese ownership underpinned growth.
Operating earnings at Volvo, bought by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. from Ford Motor Co. in 2010, rose to 11.0 billion Swedish crowns ($1.24 billion) for full-year 2016 from 6.6 billion a year earlier.
Backed by its Chinese owner, Volvo has undertaken a vast investment plan in new models and plants to secure a viable niche in a premium auto market dominated by larger German rivals such as Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
The company, one of Sweden’s biggest companies by sales and number of employees, has set a goal of reaching sales of 800,000 cars in the medium term, a level seen sufficient to ensure its place in the market and sustain future investments.
Gothenburg-based Volvo struggled to make its mark under Ford ownership but sales have steadily increased in recent years on the back of strong demand for new models and hit a new record of 534,332 cars in 2016.
“The new models are successful, sales are at record levels and profits are up substantially,” Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said in a statement.
“On the back of these achievements, I foresee that 2017 will also be a record year in terms of sales.”
In light of the growing sales, Volvo said separately it was looking to hire an additional 700 to 800 employees at its Torslanda plant in Gothenburg, in western Sweden.
Last year Volvo also took a step toward an eventual listing, raising 5 billion crowns from Swedish institutional investors through the sale of newly issued preference shares, though it said it had no immediate plans for an IPO. ($1 = 8.8868 Swedish crowns) (Reporting by Niklas Pollard; Editing by Alistair Scrutton)