Vertu Motors boss Robert Forrester has revealed his group is ready to hit the acquisition trail and expand further.
After revealing a set of strong results to the Stock Market this morning, CEO Forrester spoke exclusively to Car Dealer Magazine about his ambitions in a video interview you can watch a clip of above.
He says the group has ‘ambitions to grow’ and that the present situation could present a number of opportunities.
Some dealers are feeling the pinch with the lockdown causing irreparable damage to their businesses – and the industry has already seen some dealers collapse.
Later this year, a further pinch point in October for cash flow could cause more car dealerships to close – and Vertu is ready to pounce.
Forrester told Car Dealer: ‘In terms of franchised dealerships we have a strong group with a very stable and experienced management team.
‘I think they can operate over a broader and larger platform.
‘I think there will be opportunities for sure. There are varying levels of balance sheet strength and I think manufacturers will be active in terms of restructuring networks and taking down the number of outlets.
‘So I think there will be opportunities for us, but clearly we are currently in cash conservation mode as ever business is, but the balance sheet is strong and it has ability.’
Vertu Motors revenue for FY19/20
In the results announced this morning, Vertu revenue was up by £82.3m to £3.1bn in the year – representing growth of 1.2 per cent – as the group added 12 outlets to its portfolio and three new franchises last year.
Last year, the group made a profit of £23.7m. This year’s figure of £23.5m is down slightly, but includes costs and losses of £700,000 in relation to recent acquisitions.
In total, Vertu Motors currently has 133 sales and aftersales outlets in the UK.
Forrester added: ‘There’s plenty of opportunities, if I am honest.
‘I expect we will see a number of dynamics. The number of sales outlets in the UK will reduce, so therefore we should be relatively bigger as a consequence, and two, clearly I think we have the ability to look at growth by increasing the number of outlets.
‘Our views on brand and scale is that we can get economies of scale and having strong brands that we can go to market with digitally and on the TV is of paramount importance.’
Forrester said he would be unlikely to take on high levels of debt – as that’s something he has avoided since the group was formed – but the group has good relationships with banks and access to cash if needed.
He added: ‘We have never been great advocates of taking high levels of debt on. Ever since our formation that puts us in a strong position. And with relative levels of uncertainty I don’t think we’d be looking for lots of debt at the moment.
‘But we are ambitious to grow the business and if you look back in the great financial crisis that period was the making of our company.
‘We only set up in March 2007 and look at where we are today – and it’s not many years since then – and then the real acceleration came in the financial crisis.
‘The current situation presents opportunities and it depends what mindset you go into the battle with and we intend to try and maximise as many opportunities as we can.’
Watch the full interview from this morning with Forrester below.
- Want breaking news sent direct to your phone? Join our WhatsApp group. It is broadcast only, no chit chat, and delivers Car Dealer headlines to you as and when they happen. Send us a message here and ask to join, and we’ll send you a link.