Auto Trader sees group profits soar past £160m in hugely successful first half of the year

  • Auto Trader publishes half year results to the end of September
  • Documents show rising profit, revenue and margins
  • Firm continues to dominate motor trade with market share as high as ever
  • Period sees concerns over supply chain issues and stock headaches continue to ease

Time 9:30 am, November 9, 2023

Auto Trader saw its profits soar once again in the first half of the year as the firm continues to fly in the face of wider economic concerns.

The firm has today published its accounts for the six months to the end of September, with profit, revenue and margins all up on the same point last year.

Documents show that group profit before tax increased ten per cent to £162.8m, compared to £148m in the first half of last year.

Operating profit in the core Auto Trader business also increased by ten per cent to £184.9m with an impressive margin of 71 per cent.

At a group level, revenue increased by 12 per cent to £280.5m, of which Autorama contributed £21.1m, despite the outfit making an increased operating loss of £5.6m.

Overall, Auto Trader Group’s operating profit stood at £164.6m with operating profit margins of 59 per cent.

Reacting to the results, Nathan Coe, CEO of Auto Trader, said: ‘It has been a strong start to the year with more buyers spending more time and completing more of their car buying journey on Auto Trader.

‘We are working in partnership with record numbers of retailers and manufacturers, who are turning to our platform as the most effective and efficient way to source, price and sell their vehicles.

‘We remain confident in our long-term prospects given the strength of our business and the opportunities to deliver meaningful value for car buyers, customers, our people and shareholders.’

Firm continues to dominate industry

The period saw Auto Trader tighten its vice-like grip on the motor trade with over 75 per cent of all minutes spent on automotive classified sites, spent on Auto Trader.

The figures make the outfit a whopping ten times larger than its nearest competitor, as average monthly cross platform visits increased by 14 per cent to 77m per month.

The total number of minutes spent on the site also increased by increased by 11 per cent to 555m minutes per month.

Meanwhile, used car transactions on the site were up five per cent year-on-year, despite stubbornly remaining ten per cent off pre-pandemic levels.

Bosses say that consumer demand remained ‘robust’ in the six month period covered by the accounts, resulting in ‘resilient’ used car prices.

The firm’s monthly Retail Price Index recorded average price growth of two per cent across the period, with the average price of a used car reaching £17,800.

Coe added: ‘As well as the hard work and commitment from everyone right across our business to improving the car buying and selling experience for consumers and retailers alike, I believe the success of the last six months is testament to the partnerships we’ve built with our customers.

‘We have continued to invest in our platform to ensure we remain the most effective and efficient way to source, price and sell vehicles.

‘In the last 12 months, we’ve not only made our largest investment in marketing to drive more car buyers to our partners’ stock, but also developed and delivered many new products, powered by our unique data and artificial intelligence capability.’

Registrations on the rise as stock issues ease

The first half of the year saw Auto Trader benefit from an easing of supply chain issues, as well as stock issues.

On the most part, live car stock on site remained flat at an average of 439,000 cars, with new car stock averaging out at.

Used car stock volumes improved slightly throughout the half, which was partly driven by stronger private listings.

Overall , new car registrations were 21 per cent above the same period last year, driven largely by the fleet segment. In the private market,  registrations up only three per cent on last year,

Despite the year-on-year growth, new car registrations remained 18 per cent below pre-pandemic levels, according to Auto Trader’s data.

Meanwhile, used car transactions were up five per cent year-on-year, despite also being ten per cent down on pre-pandemic levels.

Experts also reported continued constrained supply in the leasing segment, with Autorama delivering just 4,593 vehicles.

Coe said: ‘The industry faces several forces of change that are fuelling complexity and uncertainty amongst retailers.

‘Our performance means we can continue to invest to build the best team, with the best technology, data and tools to help our partners navigate this changing backdrop.’

You can watch Car Dealer’s special report into Auto Trader below:

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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