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Auto Trader pre-tax profits drop below £300m in full year results

Auto Trader saw its pre-tax profits drop by 2% to £293.6 million for its full year results, but posted an increase in revenues and operating profit performance in the core business.

Revenue in the core Auto Trader business increased by 9% to £473m.

At a group level revenue grew 16% to £500.2m (2022: £432.7 million), the difference being the inclusion of the Autorama business, acquired in June 2022, with revenue of £27.2 million.

Operating profit in the core Auto Trader business was £332.9m, up 10% on last year, with a continued margin of 70% “as a result of careful management of costs despite inflationary pressures”.

Group operating profit declined by 9% to £277.6m (2022: £303.6 million), due to an operating loss of £11.2mn from Autorama, and £44.1m of group central costs relating to the acquisition of Autorama, which were £38.8m of deferred consideration and amortisation of acquired intangibles of £5.3 million.

Group operating profit margin was 55% (2022: 70%).

Nathan Coe, Auto Trader chief executive, said: “Given the challenging economic backdrop and historically low levels of vehicle supply, these results are a credit to our people and the close partnerships we’ve developed with our customers.

“As well as driving more engaged car buyers to our platform through our marketing campaigns, we have invested significantly in our products and services to empower retailers with the full scale of our data and technology.

“I am proud of what we have delivered and the pace at which these solutions have been embraced by our partners.  This gives me confidence that we are doing the right things to enable our customers to achieve their goals.”

Still the UK’s largest automotive marketplace

Auto Trader maintained its position as the UK’s largest automotive marketplace for new and used cars.

Over 75% of all minutes spent on automotive classified sites were spent on Auto Trader (2022: over 75%). The business said this performance is seven times bigger than the nearest competitor.

Average monthly cross platform visits increased by 1% to 69.6 million per month (2022: 68.9 million) and were 24% above pre-pandemic levels recorded in 2020 (56.3m).

Engagement, measured by total minutes spent onsite, decreased by 8% to an average of 514m minutes per month (2022: 556m minutes), although was 16% ahead of pre-pandemic levels (2020: 443m minutes).

The average number of retailer forecourts advertising on Auto Trader’s platform was broadly flat at 13,913 (2022: 13,964).

However, excluding the Webzone Limited disposal (a negative impact of 245 retailers over the period), like-for-like retailer numbers grew by 1% year-on-year.

Though there continues to be some merger and acquisition activity among car retailers, Auto Trader sees “no evidence of meaningful industry consolidation, nor any increase in barriers for those wishing to enter the industry”.

Total live stock on site increased by 2% to an average of 437,000 cars (2022: 430,000).

New car stock declined to an average of 25,000 (2022: 29,000) due to constrained new car supply.

Used car live stock increased 3% on average across the year although was 35,000 cars lower than pre-pandemic levels.

Autorama delivered 6,895 vehicles across the period, which comprised 4,295 cars, 2,253 vans and 347 pickups.

Both vans and pickups were particularly impacted by supply challenges in the year. Average commission and ancillary revenue per vehicle delivered was £1,624.

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