Vertu Motors on track for further growth

Improved market conditions have helped motor dealer Vertu Motors boost revenues and profit during recent months

Robert Forrester, Chief Exec of Vertu Motors
Robert Forrester, Chief Exec of Vertu Motors

Gateshead's Vertu Motors has announced its trading performance for the year to February 28, 2015, is likely to be ahead of current market expectations.

In a trading update covering the four months to June 30, the company said total revenues had grown 34.8% during the period, with like-for-like revenues up 16.4%.

Total gross profit, meanwhile, increased by 28.4%, reflecting the impact of higher volumes of vehicles sold and acquisitions, with like-for-like gross profit increasing by 9.9%.

During the Period, new car registrations in the UK increased by 11.9%. the key drivers of the growth being an exchange rate environment that favours UK imports and a favourable UK consumer appetite in response to attractive product and finance offers.

The latter has resulted from the overcapacity faced by European manufacturers and weak demand from continental European new car markets.

Vertu’s like-for-like new retail volumes grew by 13.5% during the four months, outperforming the market.

Used vehicle sales, similarly, grew on a like-for-like basis by 13.5%.

The update said: “During the period, the group has continued to trade ahead of management’s expectations, reflecting the accelerated turnaround of prior year acquisitions, improving aftersales margins and profits and the continued momentum in the UK new vehicle market.

“As a consequence, the board expects that the trading performance for the year ending February 28, 2015, will be ahead of current market expectations.

“The outlook for the new car market remains favourable with continued growth anticipated in the private market, albeit with new car margins under pressure.

“The used car market has returned to growth, and in aftersales the growth in the UK vehicle parc [total number on the road] coupled with the continued improvements in the Group’s customer service and retention, provide a robust backdrop for this crucial high margin area of the Group’s business.

“The board remains confident that the group is well placed to maximise the opportunity for profitable growth both from the turnaround in profitability of recent acquisitions and from favourable market conditions.”

Vertu - which now has a network of 108 sales and aftersales outlets across the UK - has also announced that on January 1, 2015, Peter Jones will be joining its board as non-executive chairman.

Jones has an extensive industry background that includes joint ownership of independent motor group Bramall and Jones Ltd,

From 2008 to 2013, he also served as an executive director of Lookers plc.

Jones will succeed Paul Williams, who is retiring at the end of 2014 after seven years in the role.

Vertu chief executive Robert Forrester said: “I am particularly pleased Peter has agreed to join Vertu as chairman.

“Peter is a man for whom I have a deep respect.

“He is an industry heavyweight with broad experience and is respected across the automotive sector and by the investment community.

“I look forward to working with him and benefitting from his guidance.”

Forrester also thanked Williams for his “unwavering support”.

“I know I speak for the whole Vertu team in wishing him well for the future when he steps down at the end of the year,” he said.

“Paul has been associated with Bristol Street Motors for more than 40 years and has been instrumental in its success over that period.”

Jones said: “I am delighted to be joining Vertu as the business continues its well managed growth trajectory.

“I have known and respected the team at Vertu for many years and look forward to working with the executive team to maximise the opportunities presented to the automotive retail industry.”

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