Used car sales soar by 27 per cent at Charles Hurst owner Lookers

continued momentum: Charles Hurst parent company Lookers has delivered an upbeat first-quarter trading statement
continued momentum: Charles Hurst parent company Lookers has delivered an upbeat first-quarter trading statement

THE average price of a used car sold by the parent company of Charles Hurst Group has grown by more than a quarter as a shortage of semi-conductors pushed up demand for vehicles.

Lookers said that used car prices rose 27 per cent in the first half of 2022, compared to the same period a year earlier.

It meant that despite a drop in the number of used cars that the business sold, it still managed to make nearly £200 million more in revenue from them, up by nearly 17 per cent on a year ago.

The figures come as thousands of people added themselves to the waiting list to get a new car. The business said that it had 22,000 orders from retail customers at the end of June, compared to 9,000 in June 2021.

But the revenue that Lookers got from new vehicles dropped 5.6 per cent to £970.2 million. The drop was due to the fleet of vehicles that it rents out to companies.

"Our first half financial performance was very strong, against an exceptional comparative period, despite ongoing inflationary pressure and vehicle supply disruption," said chief executive Mark Raban.

"We have also made excellent progress with our strategic priorities.

"We remain focused on our customers and improving our proposition to ensure the process of buying or leasing a car is as easy and simple as possible, particularly in the current challenging economic environment."

Pre-tax profit hit £49.9 million in the first half, from £50.4 million a year before, when Lookers had benefited from £12.7 million of Government Covid-19 support.

Overall revenue rose 3.6 per cent to £2.2 billion.

The company said that it would repay business rates relief of £1.5 million that it got during the pandemic.

"Whilst mindful of the pressures facing consumers, we are confident in our strategic direction and retain our expectations for the remainder of the year," Mr Raban said.

Lookers is the ultimate owner of Charles Hurst Group, which was founded in Belfast in 1911 at the cusp of a global driving revolution and has gone on to become a motoring powerhouse through investment, growth and continuous innovation.

With more than 900 staff across the island of Ireland, its headquarters on Belfast’s Boucher Road is the largest automotive retail park in Europe.