Swindon based franchised motor retailer reports improved interim results

Cambria Autos

Cambria Automobiles plc, the Swindon headquartered franchised motor retailer, has announced its unaudited interim results for the six months ended 28 February 2021. The Group said it has performed ahead of the prior year despite operating through the various Covid related lockdown and tiering restrictions.

Revenue reduced by 16 per cent to £254.7m (H1 2020: £303.1 million) and underlying profit before tax up 55.5 per cent at £9.8 million (H1 2020: £6.3m)

Cambria’s new car order bank entering March was behind the previous year, however despite being in lockdown throughout this key plate change month, the group delivered a similar number of new cars year on year.  The used car operation also performed well. Following the re-opening of its showrooms on 12 April, trading has begun positively however it remains too early to draw any firm conclusions about the trading outlook at this stage.  

During the period, all of the Group’s showrooms were closed for 82 days due to lockdown restrictions, with the majority closed for a further 16 days as they operated in Tier 4 restricted regions.  All Group showrooms were able to re-open on 12 April in line with Government guidance.  Pleasingly, the Group was able to operate a digital click and collect service in the sales operation and aftersales departments remained open throughout the Lockdown and Tier 4 restrictions.  During the period, the Group utilised the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the Business Rates reliefs to support its staff and trading operations given the enforced retail site closures.

Aside from other industry headwinds, there is now a global semiconductor shortage that is impacting the production of cars and vans with temporary factory closures at a number of the vehicle manufacturers.  These closures are having an impact on vehicle supply into both the retail and fleet new car and van markets which in turn has had an impact on the liquidity of supply into the used car market. 

Mark Lavery, Chief Executive of Cambria, said: “Whilst I am pleased with the overall performance of the Group in the first half of our financial year,  the imposition of various lockdown restrictions has clearly had a material impact on the volume of cars that we have been able to sell.  There is no doubt that most retail operations learnt vital lessons during lockdown 1 to adapt to different trading models and our business was no different, seamlessly migrating towards a digital click and collect offering for vehicle sales whilst operating the aftersales departments as efficiently as possible.

“We took significant actions to reduce our cost base in the previous financial year and were always concerned that there would be a third lockdown based on the national data in the autumn of 2020.  The reduced volumes have translated into reduced gross profits in the new and used car departments but our aftersales operations have performed well, being more efficient and therefore more profitable.

“Aside from Covid, the industry continues to face headwinds in relation to the significant changes in technology and more recently in relation to new car product supply due to the global shortage of microchips and semi-conductors, which could continue for some time and may have a material impact on the new car market.

“I am very proud of the response of our entire Associate base and thank them for all the support and flexibility that they have shown. I would also like to thank our brand partners for their pragmatism and ongoing support throughout the pandemic.  The trading performance that has been produced in the face of the challenges outlined is good.”