Dealer self-registrations inflate new car sales, says Vertu boss

NEW car sales in the UK are being inflated by ‘significant self-registration activity’ by dealers, according to one of the UK’s fastest growing vehicle retailers.

 

Paul Williams, chairman of Vertu Motors, told the company’s annual meeting that new retail car sales volumes grew on a like-for-like basis in the four months ending June 30 by 0.3% against an increase in UK private registrations of 10.1%. However, the Group had seen considerable growth in fleet and commercial volumes with a like-for-like increase of 12.2% in the four-month period compared to a market decline in registrations of 0.8%.

 

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ figures suggest thatUKnew car sales increased 2.7% in the first half of 2012 to 1,057,680 units.

 

However, Williams said: ‘The market is witnessing increased levels of self-registration byUKdealers which is inflating registration data compared to sales levels.’

 

He said that Vertu Motors continued to follow a policy of not engaging in significant self-registration activity.

 

Williams said that he believed the market fall in the four months under review in fleet and commercial vehicle registrations partly reflected what the board believed to be an increasing trend for self-registered vehicles to be classified as private rather than fleet registrations within the market.

 

During the four-month period to June 30 the company reported that it had traded ahead of the prior year with like-for-like profit growth in each of the key areas of new retail and used car sales, fleet and commercial sales and vehicle servicing. Total revenue during the period grew by 11.6%, within which like-for-like vehicle revenues grew by

5.1%.

 

Used vehicle sales volumes rose on a like-for-like basis by 6.7% in the four-month period compared to the prior year.

 

However, the company warned that supply constraints continued to characterise the used car market as customers traded down into smaller and cheaper cars, which were in short supply.

 

The company said it had responded to the trend by investing in additional used car buyers and improving the systems and processes which provide real time information utilised to control used car inventories.

 

Vertu Motors says it plans to further expand with ‘a strong pipeline of further acquisition opportunities’ on the agenda. The Group now operates 81 outlets comprising 78 franchised and three non-franchised sales outlets.

 

Looking ahead, the trading statement said: ‘The consumer environment remains challenging and volatile as macro-economic concerns continue. Market conditions in the wider European car market remain under intense pressure and this poses both

opportunities and threats to the stability of the sector in theUK.’

 

However, the statement concluded: ‘The board remains confident with the robustness of the core business and with the improving trading prospects of the acquisitions made in recent periods. The Group continues to trade in line with market expectations.’

 

 

 


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