Online car marketplace Auto Trader has touted its best-ever annual performance thanks to a boost from pent-up demand for vehicles following Covid lockdowns.
The group saw pre-tax profits nearly double to £301 million in the year to March 31 – up from £157.4 million the previous year – while revenues rose 65% to £432.7 million.
Earnings were also 20% higher compared to 2019-20, before the pandemic hit.
Chief executive Nathan Coe said it was the “best financial and operating performance in our history.”
The group said it was boosted by strong demand for both new and used cars in the past fiscal year, “driven by a catching-up in transactions that did not take place in 2020” due to lockdowns, as well as increased interest in cars. ownership and higher consumer confidence.
This came despite a shortage of new cars due to global problems with semiconductor chip supply, with the average auto inventory at Auto Trader’s site falling 11% to 430,000.
The shortage of new cars has led to a knock-on effect on used car prices, with Auto Trader’s used car price index showing a 22% year-over-year increase.
Auto Trader flagged economic uncertainty and said it expects auto dealer gas stations to fall marginally year over year as trading conditions begin to harden.
But the group said it remains confident in meeting growth expectations for the coming year.
Mr Coe said: “We are well positioned to continue our core business while developing the products retailers need to move a larger part of the auto-buying journey online, on Auto Trader.
“Despite the current high levels of economic uncertainty and changes in the industry, we are entering the year with good reason for both confidence and optimism.”