Vertu: Record results at Gateshead-based firm

Motor dealers Vertu said turnover increased by 33.3% to £837.2m and pre-tax profits rose by 69% to £8.6m for the six months ended August 2013

Robert Forrester, Chief Executive of Vertu Motors
Robert Forrester, Chief Executive of Vertu Motors

A "buy and build strategy" executed over seven years has led to record half-year results at motor dealers Vertu.

The Gateshead-based firm, which runs a network of 100 sales and aftersales outlets across the UK, said turnover increased by 33.3% to £837.2m and pre-tax profits rose by 69% to £8.6m for the six months ended August 2013.

Continued strong performance in September has also seen a 28% like-for-like new retail volume increase and continued market share gains, leading the board to predict full year results will be significantly higher than expectations.

Over the course of the six months Vertu opened seven new outlets, three of which created 70 new jobs, and chief executive Robert Forrester said more new jobs will follow, as well as further acquisitions – several to come before the year end – to follow on from the buyout of Farnell Land Rover in May.

Robert Forrester, chief executive, said: “The board is delighted with the strong results having pursued its successful buy and build strategy for over seven years.

“With profit before tax up 69% and operating cash generation up 285%, we believe the results reflect a strong market.

“If you take on an outlet you take on the staff so there aren’t necessarily new jobs created. That said, we’ve opened three new outlets – in Derby, Birmingham and Northampton – and between the three we’ve created about 70 jobs.

“We have a number of things happening on the job front in the future too, including continued expansion at the Gateshead headquarters.

“And clearly the UK economy is rebounding faster than most people thought it was. When you see that car sales are increasing by 20% we have to see if we’ve got the right level of resources and that means we’ve got to take on more people. The business is clearly going well.”

Last week, Vertu’s finance director Michael Sherwin collected the Entrepreneur of the Year award on behalf of Forrester at the annual AIM Awards Dinner, a trophy the chief executive welcomed as strong backing from the city following a successful year in which the firm raised £50m through a placing of more than 130 million shares.

Forrester paid tribute to the city’s investors for aiding the firm’s “buy and build” strategy, which he said would continue.

“The award is great recognition from the investment community in London for the achievements of the whole company,” he said.

“I don’t think people in the North East or the rest of the UK comprehend the influence of London as a global finance centre, and the massive benefits it gives.

“We’ve gone down there three times, the last time raising £50m, and it has helped a business in Gateshead become the sixth largest motor retailer in the UK within 11 years. . .that is phenomenal.

“We had a very good time generally commercially in the six months and that’s important because it means we can go out and buy more, a mix of volume and prestige in a mix of geographical areas.”

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