Auto Trader cheers best ever results on boom in car demand

The online vehicle marketplace saw pre-tax profits nearly double to £301m in the year to March 31.

Online car marketplace Auto Trader has hailed its best ever annual performance thanks to a boost from pent-up demand for motors following Covid lockdowns (Steve Parsons/PA)
Online car marketplace Auto Trader has hailed its best ever annual performance thanks to a boost from pent-up demand for motors following Covid lockdowns (Steve Parsons/PA)

Online car marketplace Auto Trader has hailed 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 – as revenues surged 65% to £432.7 million.

Profits were also 20% higher compared with 2019-20, before the pandemic struck.

Chief executive Nathan Coe said it was the “best financial and operational performance in our history”.

The group said it had been buoyed by strong demand for both new and used cars over the past financial year, “fuelled by a catch-up in transactions that didn’t happen in 2020” due to lockdowns, as well as increased interest in car ownership and higher consumer confidence.

This came despite new car shortages due to global semi-conductor chip supply problems, with average car stock on Auto Trader’s site down 11% to 430,000.

Despite the current high levels of economic uncertainty and industry change, we enter the year with good reason for both confidence and optimism

Nathan Coe, Auto Trader

The new car shortages has led to a knock-on effect on used car prices, with Auto Trader’s used car price index seeing a 22% year-on-year increase.

Auto Trader flagged economic uncertainty and said it expects car retailer forecourts to be down marginally year on year as trading conditions start to toughen.

But the group said it remains confident of meeting growth expectations for the year ahead.

Mr Coe said: “We are well placed to continue growing our core business while establishing the products that retailers will need to shift more of the car-buying journey online, on Auto Trader.

“Despite the current high levels of economic uncertainty and industry change, we enter the year with good reason for both confidence and optimism.”

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