OXFORD'S Mini Plant achieved record worldwide sales last year, the latest figures have revealed.

While car sales were down nationwide the BMW Mini Plant in Cowley bucked the trend.

Overall, new car sales fell by five per cent in the first 11 months of 2017.

But Mini – the BMW Group’s second-largest brand – achieved an all-time sales record in 2017 with 371,881 vehicles delivered to customers around the world, up by 3.2 percent compared to 2016.

David George, new director for Mini UK, said: “The Mini brand achieved a new global sales record in 2017.

“From a UK perspective, as the largest market worldwide for Mini, we were able to increase our market share once again.

“Mini has enjoyed a strong start to the year with January 2018 sales up 26 per cent on the same period last year.”

The Countryman, completely revised last year, saw the largest increase in sales with a jump of 30 per cent (84,441 sales), followed by the Mini Convertible with a 12 per cent increase (33,317 sales).

UK sales of the Mini remained steady with 68,166 new Minis sold in 2017, compared to 68,984 in 2016, a 1.19 per cent drop.

Mr George, appointed last month, succeeds Chris Brownridge, who moves into the role of sales director,

Mr George joins BMW from his previous role as sales director at Mercedes-Benz UK.

He brings substantial experience gained across sales, marketing and aftersales from a career in the automotive industry which started at Volkswagen group in 2000.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr George said: “I first fell in love with the brand at the age of 21 when a friend and I travelled across Europe in a Clubman which we had restored.

“I have long since admired the Mini range after the launch of the Mini Hatch in 2001.

“With new Mini Hatch and Mini Convertible models launching in March and the first fully-electric production Mini set to be revealed next year, the future looks incredibly exciting.

“I’m really looking forward to working with the MINI team to further enhance the brand’s appeal amongst both current and new customers alike.”

In 2017 BMW outperformed the wider UK market with robust consumer retail sales.

All-new models including the new Mini Countryman, contributed to overall UK market share growth from 2.56 per cent in 2016 to 2.68 per cent in 2017.

Falling demand for new cars across the UK last year ended five years of growth in the market, fuelled by cheap finance deals.

In July last year it was announced that the electric Mini will be built at the Cowley Plant.

German car bosses said the new battery-electric, three-door hatch will go into production at the plant from 2019.

The confirmation came after months of speculation about where the electric model would be built.