Auto Trader returns to growth in revenue and profit as used car boom continues

  • Auto Trader announces record revenue and profit for six months to end of September
  • Revenue rose by 82 per cent to £215.4m while operating profit shot up by 121 per cent to £151.7m
  • Free and discounted advertising last year is the reason for leap in figures this year
  • Surge in demand with cross-platform visits at 68.7m per month

Time 2 weeks ago

Auto Trader has announced record revenue and profit as the boom in used car prices continues.

In its results for the six months to September 30, 2021, posted today (Nov 11) on the London Stock Exchange, the platform said it had achieved its highest figures for a six-month period, with revenue rising by 82 per cent to £215.4m compared with £118.2m in the corresponding period last year.

Because of the pandemic, free advertising was provided by Auto Trader in April and May 2020 as well as at a discount in June 2020, which it said accounted for the big leap in revenue and profit this year.

The revenue figure also marks a 15 per cent improvement on the first half of 2019, when it was £186.7m.

The biggest improvement came in trade revenue, which stood at £192.3m – up 92 per cent from £100.2m last year.

Operating profit was also on the rise, with the group making £151.7m – a 121 per cent improvement on last year when the figure stood at £68.5m.

In terms of outgoings, Auto Trader spent £35m on ‘people costs’; £10.6m on marketing and £16.2m on other costs.

The company was also able to return £148.4m to shareholders through £100.4m of share buy-backs and dividends paid of £48m.

Nathan Coe, CEO of Auto Trader, said: ‘Early in the pandemic we acted decisively to protect our people, customers, and business.

‘As a result of these actions, we have emerged as a stronger business which can be seen in our results for the first half of this financial year.

The number of people using Auto Trader to buy their next car is at record levels, more retailers are choosing to partner with us, and our competitive position has strengthened.

‘This positions us well as we look to partner with retailers to bring more of the car buying journey online, which we believe will provide significant long term growth opportunities.’

The impressive results were made possible by a surge in demand for Auto Trader’s services.

The firm reported that cross-platform visits increased by 20 per cent to 68.7m per month on average.

Average revenue per retailer also rose by £993 to £2,199 per month, despite physical car stock on the site falling by nine per cent to 436,000.

Ahead of the results being published, Coe told Car Dealer Live that he was happy with the company’s performance.

He said: ‘We’ve come out of the restrictions and our customers are absolutely flying which is good. The industry is in really good health. So from that perspective, it’s good.

‘That being said, these conditions that we’ve got right at the moment, aren’t actually particularly helpful for Auto Trader if you think our business model is basically the more cars that are on Auto Trader, the more the business model generates revenue.

‘So when you get less supply combined with a really quick stock turn actually, that’s pretty much the opposite scenario to what we want.

‘We accept it because it is good for our customers, but actually it makes it less good for our performance and what it would otherwise be.

‘Now thankfully, retailers are in a good place with us, they are taking up products, all retailers have kind of lurched towards digital generally and that brings them towards us.

‘So overall our performance is decent, we’re happy with it, and most importantly, audience is really strong.’

Auto Trader remains one of the most inclusive companies within the industry with the proportion of women on the board currently standing at 50 per cent.

The percentage of women leaders across the group was 36 per cent – up from 34 per cent in March 2021 – although the proportion of those leaders who are BAME went down from  six per cent to five per cent.

Meanwhile, the proportion of female employees was constant at 39 per cent, while the number of BAME employees went up by a percentage point to 12 per cent.

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Across the whole company, the percentage of employees who are women was at 39 per cent and those who are BAME was 12 per cent.

Overall, 92 per cent of employees said they were proud to work at Auto Trader.

The group’s full-year results to March 31, 2022 will be published on May 26, 2022.

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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