'Positive trading performance' from Charles Hurst parent Lookers

Charles Hurst parent company Lookers has delivered an upbeat third-quarter trading statement

THE parent company of Belfast motor retailer Charles Hurst has produced a positive financial performance for the first nine months of the year, against more challenging market conditions for new cars and strong prior year comparatives.

Manchester-based Lookers plc, one of the leading UK motor retail and after-sales service groups, said trading was positive in the third quarter with an encouraging result during the important month of September and with full year expectations unchanged.

Turnover and volumes of new cars (which represents a third of the gross profit for the group) reduced by 7 per cent - but far outperformed the overall UK market. Total gross profit from new cars reduced by 5 per cent but margins and profit per unit were higher than the same period last year.

The used car market continued to be buoyant for Lookers, increasing by 10 per cent, contributing 27 per cent of total gross profit, offsetting the decline in profits in its new cars division.

And the company’s higher-margin after-sales business (it represents 42 per cent of the total profit) performed well in the period, with turnover and profit up 5 per cent and six per cent respectively.

During the period Lookers acquired the Jennings Group, a long-established motor retail group in the North East of England, for £5.6m, while it also sold three properties for a combined £35m, which further contributed to a strong cash flow.

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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