"The Group has a clear focus and direction to transform the business and double used revenue by 2021. This will be enabled by our market leading software business to provide the online and technology platform and by investment in increasing the used retail and aftersales representation points in the UK. We made further progress towards our goal of doubling used vehicle revenue with growth in the period of 15%. We anticipate our performance in 2018 to be in line with expectations." Trevor Finn, Chief Executive
Operational and Financial Highlights
- Used Revenue Up 15.3% (L4L) - Further strong growth against a backdrop of a challenging economic environment and lower consumer confidence.
- Aftersales Revenue Up 6.9% (L4L) - Continuing growth due to own initiatives and favourable market conditions.
- New Revenue Down 4.9% (L4L) - Reduction in new vehicle revenue, particularly in the third quarter. UK retail national registrations in our brands fell by 8.0% in the year.
- Gross Margin Movement in Third Quarter - Gross margin fell by 80 basis points over the prior year quarter, due to a reduction in new and nearly new vehicle margin primarily in the premium sector in the third quarter, which also impacted used vehicle margin in the same period.
- Gross Margin Recovered in the Fourth Quarter - Gross margin in new and used vehicle margins recovered to more normal seasonal levels in the fourth quarter.
- Software Revenue Up 9.7% - Double digit growth in gross profit and operating profit up £0.9m.
- Leasing Revenue Up 39.0% - Double digit growth in gross profit and operating profit up £4.8m.
- Underlying Profit Before Tax £60.4m - Underlying profit before tax down £15.0m due to reduction in new revenue in the year and the margin impacts in the third quarter.
- Robust Balance Sheet - strong balance sheet and still trading below the Net Debt: EBITDA target of 1 to 1.5.
The strategy of the business has four main components:
- Software and Online Technologies - Online and technology at the heart of our business transformation, providing the online platform for our customers and our Motor business. Global opportunity for software system with deployment in Europe, Africa and Asia Pacific.
- Reshaping of the Business - Acceleration of the transformation of the business, to deliver a market leading share in used vehicle and aftersales markets.
- Double Used Vehicle Revenue - Double our used vehicle revenue over the five years to 2021 with investment in capacity in the UK.
- Capital Allocation Focus - Disposal process underway to achieve a reduction in our UK Premium franchise locations and disposal of the US business.
The Board committed to this strategy to achieve more reliable and sustainable returns and a higher value business.