LOOKERS plc Record H1 performance and new Chief Financial Officer

Lookers plc (LON:LOOK)

Lookers plc (LON:LOOK), one of the leading UK motor retail and aftersales service groups, today announced its unaudited interim results for the six months ended 30 June 2021.

Highlights

·   H1 trading exceptionally strong despite closure of the showrooms throughout Q1. Trading underpinned by robust consumer demand and an improved omni-channel customer proposition, resulting in ongoing outperformance of the UK new retail car market (+17.4ppts) and a market share of 6.7%. Excellent used unit growth (LFL +38.3%) combined with strong margins.

·    Revenue of £2,153.2m (2020: £1,570.6m) with all divisions showing growth versus last year.

·    Record H1 with underlying profit before tax of £50.3m (2020: Underlying loss before tax £36.5m). Statutory profit before tax of £50.7m (2020: Statutory loss before tax £50.4m).

·   Given the strong H1 performance and the Group’s ongoing corporate responsibility agenda, the Board has voluntarily undertaken to repay all CJRS grants received for H1 (£4.1m) before the end of H2.

·    Strong cash generation with net cash of £33.0m at 30 June 2021 (31 December 2020: Net Debt £40.7m) driven by strong trading performance, continued working capital control and cost discipline. Property portfolio equivalent to 77.8p per share (2020: 80.4p per share).

·    The Board intends to resume dividend payments as soon as possible and will next review the position when releasing its 2021 full year results.

Financial Summary

 H1 2021H1 2020 (restated)*VarianceFY 2020
Underlying**    
Revenue£2,153.2m£1,570.6m37.1%£3,699.9m
Underlying profit / (loss) before tax£50.3m(£36.5m)237.8%£14.1m
Underlying earnings / (loss) per share10.44p(7.58p)237.7%2.93p
     
Statutory    
Profit / (loss) before tax£50.7m(£50.4m)200.6%£2.0m
Basic earnings / (loss) per share6.33p(13.05p)148.5%(1.05p)
     
Net cash / (debt) ***£33.0m(£11.0m)400.0%(£40.7m)

*The figures shown for H1 2020 reflect the adjustments to the interim results for 2020, consistent with those included within the full year 2020 audited results and H1 2021 unaudited results. A reconciliation of these adjustments is presented in Note 1.

** Underlying profit before tax is profit before tax and non-underlying items. Underlying earnings per share is the earnings / (loss) per share after tax and before non-underlying items (see Note 17).

*** Bank loans and overdrafts less cash and cash equivalents, excluding stocking loans, vehicle rental liabilities and lease liabilities under IFRS 16 (see Note 17).

 Board Changes and Outlook

·    Separately announcing today, the completion of Board restructuring with the appointment of Ian Bull as Non-Executive Chairman and Oliver Laird as CFO.

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·    Trading during July and August remained strong, exceeding expectations, primarily driven by unprecedented used vehicle margins. Order take also remained robust and the Group has a strong order book for September and the remainder of 2021.

·    Given the ongoing and well documented new and used vehicle supply restrictions, combined with uncertainty resulting from COVID-19, there remains considerable variation in vehicle delivery dates and availability and in this context the Board believes it is right to retain its cautious approach.

·   Notwithstanding this, the Group remains well positioned for the remainder of 2021 and beyond. Therefore, current expectations for underlying profit before tax for 2021 remain unchanged after having committed to fully repay all CJRS grants received for the current financial year before the end of 2021.

Mark Raban, Lookers plc Chief Executive Officer, said:

“We have delivered a record performance in H1 despite significant COVID-19 related disruption. Demand has continued to be strong as we see a sustained preference for car-based travel amongst consumers. We have been able to capture this demand and outperform the market through continued improvements to our omni-channel customer experience which allows customers to purchase cars with us however they wish.

The rapid growth of electric vehicles continues apace, and we are well positioned to maximise this exciting growth opportunity alongside our other strategic growth pillars. Whilst we are mindful of various short-term pressures, particularly around supply, with a refreshed Board, a restructured business and an enhanced digital proposition, there is much to look forward to.”

Lookers plc went on to announce the appointment of Oliver Laird as Chief Financial Officer with effect from 15 November 2021.

Appointment of Chief Financial Officer

Oliver is a seasoned CFO, with strong experience across a range of public and private businesses. Since 2017, he has been CFO at CPP Group plc, the listed multinational financial services business. Previously, he was Finance Director with First Direct Bank, Cooperative Insurance and UK General Insurance Limited, bringing an in-depth understanding of the provision of financial services to retail customers.

Mark Raban, Chief Executive Officer, commented:

“The Board is delighted to welcome Oliver to the Group, who brings strong and relevant experience. This is a crucial role for Lookers and in Oliver we have found the right blend of skills, cultural fit and experience to make a real impact on the Group’s continued future success. I am really looking forward to working closely with Oliver moving forward.”

Oliver Laird, CFO Designate, commented:

“I’m really excited to be joining Lookers. There is a really strong team in place and the sector is in a fascinating period of change and development. I look forward to joining and being a part of the next chapter for the business.”

The Company confirms that there is no other information which would require disclosure under Listing Rules 9.6.13(2) to 9.6.13(6) inclusive in respect of Oliver Laird.

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