CAMBRIA Automobiles saw profit before tax fall by 14.3 per cent to £4.8m for the six months ending February 28, 2018.
Revenue fell by 4.5 per cent to £295.1m compared to the same six months in 2017, as revealed in the group’s interim results.
As expected in the current market, new vehicle sales fell by 16.2 per cent but profit per unit increased slightly to offset this.
Used vehicles sales also took a slight hit, down by 0.8 per cent, but profit per unit increased by 7.8 per cent to offset this.
Overall, units were down by 6.7 per cent but this was slightly counterbalanced by a 9.7 per cent increase in the profit per unit.
Aftersales remained a strong area for the group, with revenue up 6.1 per cent compared to the same period last year, and up 1.1 per cent overall.
In January, Cambria purchased Bentley Essex and Kent, and relocated it to the group’s newly refurbished facilities at the existing Chelmsford and Tumbridge Wells site. It also took on a Lamborghini franchise at the site.
The group’s first McLaren dealership opened in January also, operating for its Hatfield site.
Chief executive Mark Lavery commented: ‘We’re actually only seeing one area of our business that’s dropped and that’s new cars. Used cars is a significantly improved contribution year-on-year in profit terms and aftersales is seeing significant growth.
‘If you take a look at some of our brand partners, particularly on the volume side, they’re the ones that have dropped most dramatically. In premium and high luxury, which we’ve been very active in, introducing Lamborghini, McLaren and Bentley to the group, they have produced good, strong results.’
He added: ‘In new car market terms we’ve gone through 12 months of decline, so technically we’ve been in recession for six months now. April has shown some growth, which is encouraging. I think that current government clean air policy is bordering on farcical and we need to get some clarity as to what the government expects moving forward. They also need to listen to automotive engineers rather than people who are less qualified, in my opinion.’
Lavery explained that he believes the demonisation of diesel cars has put people off buying new. However, with a strong used car presence in their portfolio he believes Cambria can grow in this area.
‘I think we can do more on used cars. I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed because the results are solid, but if we could just sell one more used car a week in each franchise it gives a very different look to our economics,’ he said.
‘We’re already very high comparatively in the industry, getting around 129 per cent return on used car investment against an average of 82 per cent. However, if anything, we’ve brought prices down in line with the market.
‘By looking at BCA Dealer Pro, Auto Trader iControl, and utilising those in line with our own in house software our team are looking at prices on a daily basis – in certain cases an hourly basis – to make sure we’re in line with market. I think today’s consumer is a lot more price sensitive and if you’re not in the right price range, you won’t get the enquiry.’
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