Thursday 8 April 2021 8:30 am

Lookers set to beat profit forecasts after 'resilient' lockdown performance

Car dealership Lookers today said that full year profit would come in “materially ahead” of the £22.6m predicted by analysts after a better than expected performance in the first quarter.

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The announcement sent shares into overdrive this morning, with the company’s stock up 13.3 per cent as markets opened.

The FTSE 250 firm, which has spent much of the last year beset by strife, said that it had sold 44,000 models in the first three months of the year, compared to 49,000 for the same period last year.

Its new car sales were flat year-on-year, meaning it outperformed the rest of the industry for the period. According to the SMMT, new car sales dropped 12 per cent in the first quarter.

However, Lookers’ sale of used cars fell 6.0 per cent over the same period.

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Due to the latest coronavirus lockdown, car dealerships have been forced to remain closed for several months, knocking sales.

Although many have adopted a click-and-collect sales model due to the restrictions, the sector will breathe a sigh of relief when dealerships open again on Monday.

Lookers’ chief executive Mark Raban said: “Despite the challenges presented by the third national lockdown, we have performed ahead of our expectations in the first quarter. Our colleagues and customers have shown great resilience and flexibility, fully embracing new technology, amidst a difficult environment.

“The events of the last year have highlighted the inherent strength of our franchised dealership model and the importance of an integrated customer experience which fully embraces both digital and physical channels and we have been able to enhance our online capabilities at pace.

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“As we emerge from lockdown restrictions, we look forward to welcoming customers back to our dealerships and with new technology and improvements to the Lookers proposition, we are well placed to capitalise on the many opportunities ahead.”