Vertu Motors scores record sales of almost £5bn

  • The Gateshead-based dealership chain owns the Bristol Street Motors brand
  • Recent acquisitions contributed around £450m to the group’s turnover

Vertu Motors achieved record revenues last year despite used vehicle prices falling towards the end of the period.

Britain’s third-biggest car dealership chain, which owns the Bristol Street Motors brand, saw turnover increase by 17.6 per cent to £4.7billion in the 12 months ending February.

Recent acquisitions, including Helston Garages – Vertu’s biggest-ever takeover deal – contributed around £450million to group revenue, while core sales climbed by more than £300million.

Vertu also told investors on Wednesday it is finally starting to see used car price growth.  

Good deal: Vertu Motors, which owns the Bristol Street Motors brand, reported turnover increased by 17.6 per cent to £4.7billion in the 12 months ending February

Vehicle purchases grew by 11.4 per cent to 187,769 over the year, with demand rising for both new and secondhand vehicles amid a challenging retail backdrop.

Revenues from used cars rose by 9.5 per cent to £1.8billion even though trading was hurt by cost-of-living pressures, high interest rates and insurance costs.

Wholesale secondhand vehicle prices also fell by 10.3 per cent between October and December as market supply improved and sellers showed greater willingness to impose discounts in order to liquidate inventory levels.

Robert Forrester, chief executive of Vertu, said: ‘It was pleasing to see the group successfully navigating a difficult period of trading.’

He added that used car prices and margins had ‘stabilised’ since the year started, while the firm rocked up ‘successful months’ at the start of its new financial year in March and April.

During those two months, the Gateshead-based company saw like-for-like volumes of new retail vehicles surpass the wider market downturn, and secondhand car levels grow by 5.8 per cent year-on-year.

Vertu believes pricing and the used vehicle sector are ‘likely to remain robust’ this year, thanks to increasing supply and ‘consumer offers’ by carmakers looking to avoid penalties.

But bosses are warning of numerous potential difficulties, including continued high interest rates and inflationary pressures, a looming general election, and disruption to new vehicle supply levels related to the transition to greener vehicles.

Neil Shah, executive director of content and strategy at Edison Group, said: ‘Looking further ahead, the sector remains concerned about the regulatory effects of the drive to Net Zero, and how it might lead to fines for manufacturers.

‘Still, this is a positive set of results in a sector that is now recovering from the supply chain disruption and low consumer confidence of the previous two years.’

Vertu Motors shares were 1.6 per cent higher at 77.3p on Wednesday morning and have expanded by around a quarter over the past year.