Surge in used car sales drives growth at Charles Hurst parent company Lookers

Lookers chief executive, Andy Bruce said he is pleased with the latest group financial results
Gareth McKeown

THE parent company of Belfast-based motor retailer Charles Hurst has delivered an encouraging set of financial results for the first half of the year.

Lookers has seen its turnover rise by 5 per cent in comparison to the previous year from £2.46 billion to £2.58 billion. This has been heavily boosted by 12 per cent growth in the used car market, with gross profit in the sector increasing by 4 per cent.

Turnover for aftersales grew by 6 per cent comparatively with the first half of 2017 and gross profit in this market is up by 7 per cent.

Profit before tax, including the £7.6m sale of a property, also increased from the beginning of 2017 from £44.6m to £45.7m. Without the property boost pre-tax profit is down 14 per cent, but Lookers chief executive, Andy Bruce said this was to be expected.

“I am pleased with our performance over the first half of the year, which has been delivered despite ongoing challenging market conditions," he said.

"Although profits, excluding a profit of £7.6 million on the sale of a property, are down on last year, as expected, this was due to a very strong comparative period, driven by record new car sales ahead of the decline seen across the market from April 2017.

“Against this backdrop, we continue to show good strategic momentum, winning market share and outperforming the wider industry, demonstrating the benefits of our clear strategy of having the right brands in the right locations, with a well invested dealership portfolio combined with excellent execution."

Looking ahead Mr Bruce is optimistic for the future, with an "encouraging level" of new orders for September.

The Lookers motor retail group consists of 154 franchised dealerships representing 32 manufacturers from 99 locations.

Charles Hurst was founded in Belfast in 1911 and acquired by Lookers in 1996. Its Boucher Road headquarters is the largest automotive park in Europe.

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