Upbeat trading statement from Charles Hurst parent in declining UK new car sales market

Charles Hurst parent company Lookers has delivered an upbeat first-quarter trading statement
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE parent company of Belfast-based motor retailer Charles Hurst has delivered an upbeat first quarter trading update against the backdrop of a declining UK new car market.

Lookers says it has far outperformed the new car sales market (that represents a third of the gross profit for the group) and continued its momentum in used and after-sales

While new car registrations reduced by 12.4 per cent in the UK to 718,489 cars in the first quarter, industry forecasts by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders for the full year are now at 2.4 million.

And while this is a reduction of 5.6 per cent compared to last year, it remains a very high level of registrations compared to historical levels.

Against this background, turnover of new cars at Lookers decreased by 4 per cent in the three months to March 31, significantly better than the total market reduction, though its total gross profit from new cars reduced by 8 per cent, with a modest reduction in profit per unit.

In the used car market, Lookers' turnover increased by 8 per cent while gross profit in this sector improved by 6 per cent.

And the company's higher-margin after-sales business (it represents 41 per cent of the total profit) performed well in the period, with turnover and profit both up.

Lookers says there continues to be strong momentum in both its used car and after-sales businesses, demonstrating the resilience and diversity of the group's business model.

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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