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14 October, 2020 - 15:20 By Tony Quested

Sales on a plate via Marshall Motors’ September surge

The September plate change brought Marshall Motor Holdings a market-busting month for both new and used car sales.

UK shareholders sent the stock more than six per cent higher to 127.25p when the trading update was unveiled on Tuesday.

While MMH chief executive Daksh Gupta said COVID continued to cast a cloud over any long-term forecasts and would trigger redundancies to boost efficiencies, he was buoyant over recent performance since re-opening showrooms across the country in June. 

As previously reported here, the group’s extremely strong cash position will trigger further acquisitions.

After a review of its portfolio and with the backing of its brand partners, the group has announced the proposed closure of four sub-scale franchised dealerships: Cambridge Hyundai, Bury St Edmunds Ford, Knebworth Vauxhall and Poole Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles. 

In the year ended 31 December 2019, these dealerships made a combined revenue contribution of £47.3m but a loss of £0.1m.

The group continues to expand its representation with key brand partners. It has secured the opportunity to represent Ford Commercial Vehicles in King’s Lynn, which it will operate from its existing King’s Lynn Ford freehold site. It has also agreed to represent SEAT at an open point in Oxford, which will operate from a leasehold site adjacent to the group’s existing JLR and Volkswagen businesses. Each of these new businesses is expected to start trading in early 2021 following completion of associated corporate identity upgrades.

The group is consulting with a limited number of colleagues regarding the potential redundancy of their roles. These include certain driver positions and a limited number of other roles across the business. No specific numbers have been given.

Over coming weeks, the group will be engaging with affected colleagues and will be seeking to mitigate the impact where possible.

The company had £31.5 million net cash at September 30; in August, the group had announced the renewal of its £120m revolving credit facility until 2023. 

This, coupled with net assets of over £200m, leaves MMH very well positioned to take advantage of growth opportunities that make strategic and financial sense for its stakeholders, Gupta said.

The Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders reported that total new vehicle registrations in September were down 4.4 per cent. MMH significantly outperformed the market with like-for-like total new vehicle sales up 18.4 per cent. Total new vehicle sales were up 33.9 per cent as a result of strategic acquisitions made in 2019.

The SMMT reported that new vehicle retail registrations were down 1.1 per cent in September. MMH’s like-for-like new vehicle retail sales grew 19.1 per cent, significantly ahead of the market, with total new vehicle retail sales up 38.6 per cent.

The group also performed strongly in fleet sales during September with fleet sales up 17.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis and total new fleet sales up 23.9 per cent compared with the SMMT’s reported fleet registrations decline of 7.4 per cent.

Used vehicle sales in September were up 15.7 per cent on a like-for-like basis and 29.4 per cent in total. Aftersales revenue in September was up 11.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis and 21.1 per cent in total.

Total revenue was 28 per cent higher, including the impact of acquisitions with like-for-like revenues up 16.3 per cent.

• PHOTOGRAPH: Marshall Motor Holdings chief executive Daksh Gupta

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