FAST-growing car dealership group Vertu says it will drive sales past the £1bn mark this year as it betters the UK motor market which is struggling with a lack of confidence.
The Gateshead business, which has 80 franchised dealerships and three non-franchised sales operations in 66 sites nationwide, said it is trading in line with expectations.
The group, which trades mainly under the Bristol Street Motors brand, said it had outperformed the UK market in sales volumes in the five months to the end of January.
Its like-for-like private new retail volumes were 4.3% ahead of the market average, and its used vehicle volumes were up by 1.4%, while the national market remained flat.
The group also recorded a 10.1% jump in fleet and commercial vehicle volumes and said its like-for-like new car orders taken for the March private retail market were also 10.3% ahead of last year.
March is the most important month for profits in the industry, because the new registration plate comes in, which also impacts on when uses cars are serviced.
Vertu said: “While there is clearly significant work to do during the month to deliver a strong March performance, this position gives the board confidence.
“In addition, progress continues to be made in delivering an enhanced performance from dealerships acquired in the last two years.”
But the group highlighted the “challenging economic backdrop of uncertainty” which has led to a fall in consumer confidence and a national 8.5% drop in new car private registrations.
“In contrast, group private new sales volumes fell only 4.2% on a like-for-like basis,” said Vertu.
“During this period the group maintained its gross profit per unit on private new car sales by continuing to earn high levels of manufacturer bonuses.” The group, which is the UK’s fastest-growing motor dealership group, bought its first new dealership of the year in January.
It signed a £2m deal for a Vauxhall business in Northampton which it intends to relocate to a new state-of-the art site. It is the eleventh Vauxhall dealership on the group’s books.
The group’s portfolio of dealerships also includes Alfa Romeo, Chevrolet, Chrysler Jeep, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Peugeot and SEAT outlets.
Vertu, which was set up in 2006, intends to publish its results for the year to February 29 on May 16.