Pendragon has said that it “almost entirely” offset its losses from a COVID-19 impacted first half of the year with an eight-fold increase in underlying pre-tax profits in Q3. News of the strong performance come less than a month after H1 interim results statement from the former AM100-topping car retail group which revealed that coronavirus lockdown had contributed to a £31m underlying loss before tax.
Today (October 22) the group said that it had performed “ahead of expectations” to deliver underlying profit before tax of £27.3m in Q3 – an increase of £24.3m, (810%) on Q3 2019’s £3m. On a like-for-like basis the dramatically restructured group saw revenues down 1.2% as gross profit rose 9.8% and operating costs and interest declined by 9.3%. The result was a year-to-date underlying loss before tax reduced to just £3.6m (H1 FY20: £31.0m).
Pendragon chief executive, Bill Berman, said: “I would like to thank all our associates who have shown great professionalism in responding to the changing operating environment during the period and their hard work has been absolutely critical to our success.
British retail sales have continued to increase for the fifth consecutive month, boosted by non-food items including DIY and garden supplies, according to official figures. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales volumes rose by 1.5% between August and September. Spending on groceries remained high, but petrol sales were still down as motorists made fewer journeys.
Sales are now 5.5% higher than the pre-pandemic levels seen in February. The three months to September saw the biggest quarterly increase on record, as retail sales volumes increased by 17.4% when compared with the previous three months. Fuel was the only main sector to remain below February's pre-pandemic level, the ONS said, with volume sales 8.6% lower in September when compared with February 2020.
Peoples Ford chairman Brian Gilda has said that he is “delighted” with the outcome of a 2019/2020 annual results period which included the took the full impact of COVID-19 lockdown. In a set of results for the 12 months to July 31, 2020, the UK’s largest independent dealership in the UK and Europe retailing only Ford cars and commercial vehicles achieved turnover of £242.3m and profits before tax and Preference Share Dividends of £3.01m.
Despite revenues being 12.6% down of 2018/19’s £277.4m and pre-tax profits 33.8% down on the previous 12 months’ £4.55m, the report also showed an increase of 2% in the AM100 group’s total net assets.
And Gilda was extremely pleased with the outcome. He said: “You can be assured I am delighted with these results notwithstanding the 12.6% diminution in turnover and 33.8% diminution in profits from last year’s results.” Peoples reported unit sales down 16.2% overall, reflecting the effect of a COVID-19 lockdown period which saw the company’s six dealerships closed between March and June and the furloughing of most of its near 400 employees.
Arnold Clark chief executive Eddie Hawthorne has said that mental health concerns among the AM100 car retail group’s staff have gone “through the roof” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking to AM this morning, Hawthorne said that the business’s leadership team had been called upon to harness all its managerial expertise in ensuring that it maintained a resilient operation and planned for appropriately for 2021.
But while the group has been forced to close six dealerships, make a number of redundancies and stall its annual recruitment of 400 apprentices, the mental health of the workforce has become a top priority. “We have had to plan as we’ve never had to plan before”, said Hawthorne. “And, in doing that, we have found ourselves working harder than ever to address issues of anxiety and mental health among the workforce which have gone through the roof due to COVID.”
Hawthorne said that concerns about job security and exposure to COVID-19 away from the workplace were among employees' key issues, with some growing concerned about the impact of positive test results among friends and relatives. He said: “The simple truth is that we need a healthy and productive workforce and so these are things that we have been working hard to address.”
The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) this week opened up a HR survey in an effort to help address UK car retailers' employment concerns through a greater understanding of the sectors' issues.
Drivers are now paying £50 less than they were at the start of 2020. Comprehensive car insurance premiums have fallen by 1% (£5) in the third quarter of 2020, according to the latest Confused.com Car Insurance Price Index in association with Willis Towers Watson. However, this does precede future impacts that may follow the recently released FCA report on pricing practices.
The average cost of car insurance has now fallen for three consecutive quarters and is now £765, following a £18 (2%) decrease over the past year, according to the car insurance price index in the UK, which is based on price data compiled from almost six million customer quotes per quarter.
The average price of used vans has risen by 26 per cent so far this year, reports Aston Barclay. The auction & remarketing supplier said it thought they’d hit their summit during the second quarter, but they rose by 4.2 per cent (£255) to £6,204 in the third quarter. Aston Barclay said that equalled an unprecedented 26 per cent price rise in 2020 from a first-quarter average of £4,923 – and there’s no sign of the market cooling down as it enters the last quarter.
Sectors such as home delivery would carry on growing ‘at a frightening pace’, it commented, with the rise of online shopping further fuelling demand for used vans. And the increase in prices in the third quarter comes in spite of average age and mileage going up to 68 months and 105,648 from 60 months and 96,090 miles in the second quarter. Geoff Flood, Aston Barclay’s national LCV manager, said: ‘The market has never seen a 26 per cent rise before.
‘From the high demand and lack of supply we are continuing to experience at auction, the van price boom will continue into 2021.’ He added: ‘We are also hearing that some new vans are suffering from long lead times, which will mean prolonged replacement cycles and heavier demand on used vans, which will keep prices sky high.’ Meanwhile, double-cab prices rose on average in the third quarter by 4.7 per cent (£488) and have gone up by 9.2 per cent (£900) since this year’s first quarter.
According to the latest quarterly job market report from CV-Library, job applications in the automotive sector grew by 25.7% in Q3 2020. The report looks at job market data throughout Q3 2020 and compares this with findings from the previous year. It reveals that while applications have increase quarter-on-quarter, the number of applications is still 15.5% lower than last year.
The data also reveals that the number of job postings has increased by 79.6% between Q2 and Q3 2020. However, the number of roles advertised between July and September is still a massive 56.4% lower than at the start of the year. What’s more, as vacancies continued to rise during Q3, the number of applications per vacancy dropped by 30%. However, this is still 144.6% higher than during the same period last year.