Lookers sees flat profit as it eyes a sale

CAR dealer and parts supplier Lookers, which was in offer talks with a consortium led by investor Jack Petchey recently, said it was no longer in discussions with anyone, but was still open to selling the group.

The update came as the company posted a pre-tax profit of £22.6m in the half year to June amid a tough economy.

That was the same as the comparable period last year.

Revenue rose 1.4 per cent to £1bn, helped by strong growth in its parts division. Last month the company, which owns Scottish brand Taggarts and the Charles Hurst brand in Northern Ireland, had rejected a revised offer from Petchey’s consortium.

“We opened talks with the consortium when they revised their pricing. We didn’t have the support of our shareholder base, who valued the company at a higher figure than the 70 pence that was offered,” chief executive Peter Jones said.

In May, Petchey’s Trefick vehicle, along with Moor Park Capital Partners, a real estate private equity investment advisory firm, and Brett Palos, a venture capitalist and real estate investor, was refused access to Lookers’ books after they made a joint offer approach for the company.

Trefick owns a 17.3 per cent stake in Lookers, which is currently valued at nearly £200m.

“The consortium obviously moved away and during the offer period, it didn’t stimulate any interest from any other buyers and now we are not in talks at all,” Jones said.

“We don’t expect any material changes to full-year consensus forecasts [of £35.5m] at this stage,” Espirito Santo Investment Bank said.