Lookers has published its much-anticipated 2020 results which show a £14.1m profit.
In preliminary results published on the London Stock Exchange this morning (July 1), the dealer group said it’s emerging from the past 12 months as ‘a better business’.
It reported underlying profit of £14.1m, up by £10m on 2019, while statutory profit before tax was £2m.
Non-underlying figures include £12.5m in restructuring costs, £3.1m credit on property disposal and £10.4m for the 2019 FCA investigation.
Revenue stood at £3.7bn and was 23 per cent lower than 2019’s reinstated figure of £4.8bn.
Like-for-like revenue fell by 20.4 per cent due to sales of new and used cars and aftersales declining.
Lookers said it holds a 6.2 per cent share of the UK car market, sold 86,555 new cars in 2020 – down from 112,906 the year before – and 78,341 used cars compared with the 100,764 cars it sold in 2019.
Aftersales totalled £383.8m (£495.3m in 2019).
Lookers’ final results show underlying net operating expenses were 22.7 per cent lower than 2019 and stood at £368m. It took £34.9m in government furlough cash and £10.2m of rates reduction.
Excluding these, Lookers said its operating expenses were 14.6 per cent below last year.
The dealer group reported a strong second half of 2020 which ‘more than’ offset ‘a challenging first half’, and saw a restructuring programme.
It said its strategic priorities include investment and development of its omni-channel experience.
We are emerging from this period operationally, financially and culturally as a better business
Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, Lookers highlighted ‘uncertainty’ about the ongoing effect of Covid-19 and supply restrictions of new and used cars ‘tightening in recent weeks’.
Lookers CEO Mark Raban said: 2020 was a challenging year for the group dealing with both the impact of Covid-19 and the group’s legacy issues.
‘We are emerging from this period operationally, financially and culturally as a better business, focused on putting the customer at the centre of everything we do.
‘We expect to build on the strong momentum within the business, underpinned by our excellent manufacturer relationships, omni-channel technology platform and fantastic Lookers colleagues.
‘We are now in a great position to benefit from the many growth opportunities available for the business.’
The 2020 results were expected to be released earlier this week, but in an update to the London Stock Exchange, Lookers said its auditors needed ‘slightly more time’.
Up to now, Lookers has blamed the Covid-19 pandemic for the delay in its results and has used extra time offered in the FCA’s extended reporting deadline.
The past 18 months have been a turbulent time for the dealer group. It announced plans to axe 12 dealerships and cut 1,500 jobs, a number of executives left the business and was the subject of an FCA fraud investigation which was later closed with no fine imposed.
Lookers timeline: What’s happened when?
Click on the date to read the full story
June 28, 2021 – Lookers delays the publication of its 2020 results saying auditors needed ‘slightly more time’
June 16, 2021 – Lookers tells shareholders to stay away from AGM due to four-week delay in Covid unlocking
June 7, 2021 – Lookers chair Phil White to stay on as group reveals when it will finally announce its 2020 results
June 3, 2021 – Lookers opens new £4.6m Jaguar Land Rover dealership
May 26, 2021 – Lookers seen as good buy for investors as analysts upgrade forecast once again
May 25, 2021 – Lookers finally renews its banking facility as it agrees credit deal with consortium of banks
April 13, 2021 – Lookers non-executive director Heather Jackson to step down at end of April
April 9, 2021 – Motor trade analysts upgrade their forecast for Lookers as share price jumps again
April 8, 2021 – Lookers reveals its performance for first quarter of 2021 was ahead of board expectations in unscheduled announcement to Stock Market.
March 18, 2021 – Lookers said it expects to make a profit before tax of around £10m for 2020 – up from £4.2m for 2019 as it reveals talks with banks are ‘progressing’.
March 15, 2021 – Lookers’ previous auditors Deloitte under investigation by Financial Reporting Council of its work on the group’s accounts in 2017 and 2018.
March 2, 2021 – FCA investigation closed and no fine imposed on Lookers. FCA expressed ‘concerns’ relating to ‘historic culture, systems and controls’, but said no further action would be taken.
January 29, 2021 – Lookers revealed it lost £36.1m in the first half of 2020. The interim results led to shares being relisted on London Stock Exchange. They immediately rose 77 per cent.
January 6, 2021 – Lookers appoints Anna Bielby as interim chief financial officer, but there was no news on the delayed interim results.
December 29, 2020 – A third of shareholders vote against Lookers directors’ remuneration packages – including CEO Mark Raban’s £450k salary – at a general meeting.
December 18, 2020 – Lookers tells investors that its interim results, promised to be delivered before the end of the year, will now not be published.
December 9, 2020– Lookers reveals interim CFO Jim Perrie has quit early and says it is ‘unlikely’ the interim results will be out before the end of the year.
November 25, 2020 – Lookers finally releases its annual accounts for 2019 showing a statutory loss for 2019 of £45.5m. Promises interim results in December and the hopeful reinstatement of shares on Stock Market.
October 31, 2020 – Long-standing Lookers non-executive director Tony Bramall, one of the group’s major investors, brings forward the date he will leave the board to the end of December. No reason is given for his early departure.
October 19, 2020 – Lookers updates market on performance in Q3, but still no word on its 2019 accounts or the FCA investigation. Analysts expect results to be out before December.
August 20, 2020 – Accounts delayed for fourth time and no promise given as to when they’ll be published.
June 9, 2020 – Lookers says it will suspend shares on July 1. Delays accounts for third time and says they’ll be published ‘no later than the end of August 2020’.
June 5, 2020 – Lookers says it will axe 12 dealerships and cut 1,500 jobs.
May 2020 – Pendragon CEO Bill Berman admits he wrote to Lookers to discuss a merger and updates Stock Market to that effect. Move described as ‘two drunk men bumping into each other in a bar’.
April 2020 – Fraud investigation deepens. £4m charge revealed and firm says there could be more. Delays accounts to June.
March 12, 2020 – New chief operating officer Cameron Wade leaves role after only a month in post.
March 11, 2020 – Lookers delays results, saying that in final stages of preparation ‘potentially fraudulent transactions’ in one division were discovered. Promises results in April.
November 2019 – Chief executive Andy Bruce and chief operating officer Nigel McMinn leave firm abruptly.
June 2019 – FCA launches review into sales processes at Lookers between January 2016 and June 2019. Lookers cannot ‘estimate what effect, if any, the outcome of the investigation may have’.
December 2018 – Lookers launches independent internal audit into sales process. It eventually finds ‘control issues’ in sales process where ‘improvements’ are needed. Findings handed to FCA.