Belfast Telegraph

'Confident' Auto Trader drives to £203m full-year profit

Classified cars website Auto Trader saw profits accelerate last year, despite increased economic uncertainty and a dip in consumer confidence.

The firm said full-year operating profit revved up by 18% to £203.1 million while, on a pre-tax basis profit, rose 23% to £193.4 million.

Auto Trader, which floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2015, said turnover was up from £281.6 million to £311.4 million.

Chief executive Trevor Mather said: "With consumers spending more than double the time researching their next car online than they do offline, we have strived to create greater transparency and therefore trust in our marketplace, benefiting consumers, retailers and manufacturers alike.

"The new financial year has started well and, despite the wider political and economic uncertainty, the board is confident of delivering its growth expectations for the coming year."

He added that the industry now expects new car registrations to "plateau or decline", but still anticipates growth in used car transaction volumes.

Data out this week showed that new car sales fell last month as the General Election put potential buyers off making a purchase.

Some 186,265 new cars were registered in May, down 8.5% on the same month last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Nevertheless, Auto Trader said it expects the strong new car market performance in recent years to "continue to have a positive impact on used car transactions".

The firm said the result of the EU referendum has "increased the level of uncertainty around customer and consumer spending power", although there are no short-­term indicators of a downturn.