Vertu Motors has bounced back from the lows of the national coronavirus lockdown to post a £4.7m profit for the first six months of the year.
The group managed to achieve revenues of £1.12bn despite dealerships being forced to close for 10 weeks.
In interim results announced to the Stock Market this morning, the group said it lost £14.3m in the first quarter due to the lockdown.
However, it rebounded strongly with its best ever September performance resulting in a second quarter profit of £19m – the same period last year generated ‘just’ £3.8m profit by comparison.
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Robert Forrester, Vertu chief executive, said: ‘The energised Vertu team delivered a safe operating environment for customers and colleagues and an outstanding trading performance as lockdown was eased.
‘Individual records in used cars, aftersales and new cars were set across the group. We did the basics well and have increased investment in omni-channel technology, which has been received enthusiastically by customers.
‘This is an exceptional performance in the circumstances. We are well placed for the opportunities that an uncertain future offers.’
Forrester thanked his colleagues, manufacturer partners and key suppliers for their support during the ‘unprecedented period’.
Shares in Vertu have almost doubled since the start of the pandemic. In March they fell to a low of 17.2p, but today were trading at 31.5p.
The group has managed to slash costs by £10m and said its omni-channel capabilities (online sales) had been enhanced with better technology and colleagues had been performing at ‘high productivity levels’.
Many dealership groups have cut staff numbers and are realising that the benefits of online sales solutions and less staff mean increased profits.
Vertu’s results show the group has strong cash flow with operating cash at £80m during the period and net cash of £36.5m.
Vertu added in its report: ‘The result for the 7 months to September 2020 gives the board confidence that a strong financial outcome will be delivered in the full financial year.
‘[And] the group is well positioned to benefit from continued consolidation.’
Last week, Vertu announced it had acquired Sandicliffe’s Kia dealership in Nottingham.
David Kendrick, a partner at UHY Hacker Young, tweeted: ‘Great set of interims @vertumotors! Some more positivity which is what the industry needs as we head into Q4. Let’s hope the momentum continues.’
Car Dealer will be speaking to Forrester this morning in an exclusive video interview. Check back later this morning to watch it.