Sytner Group has revealed a 39.8% rise in pre-tax profits despite COVID-19 enforced showroom closures during its 2020 financial year.
The AM100-topping Penske Automotive-owned car retail group’s results for the period to December 31, 2020, show a rise in PBT to £100.4 million (2019: £71.8m) against the backdrop of a near-17% decline in turnover to £4.9bn (2019: £5.9bn).
Although new cars sales declined 21.6% to 16,542, Sytner’s CarShop used car supermarket division succeeded in growing used car sales volumes by 1.3% to 138,078 (2019: 136,367).
Sytner’s results statement said: “This result was achieved by a combination of support received from both Government and our manufacturer partners and the determination, skill and overall excellence of our colleagues in hugely challenging circumstances.”
It added: “Our manufacturer partners have been consistently supportive through the pandemic and we are very grateful for this support.”
Sytner sold its remaining Volkswagen dealerships in 2020, but suffered a £1.4m loss on the transactions.
It also closed its BMW and Mini dealership in Haverfordwest and a Land Rover dealership in Stratford.
The business revealed that its group-wide headcount had declined by over 1,000 in 2020 – from 10,489 to 9,466 – last year, a move which reduced its payroll spending from £374.5m to £406.8m.
The group also borrowed £45.5m from the Government’s now discontinued Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CRJS) to help it weather the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sytner said that the support from Government and its OEM partners had given it the confidence to proceed with planned investments in its electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure and the growth of the Car Shop operation.
During 2020 CarShop – now Penske Automotive’s global used car brand – expanded with the opening of its flagship car supermarket in Nottingham.
Since the period end, CarShop has also opened its first Express Store in Leicester and proceeded with plans to develop new car supermarket sites in a former Showroom Cinema in Derby and a former Autoworld dealership in Willenhall, near Wolverhampton.
It now has plans to open a second Express Store in Leighton Buzzard.
Sytner has also been able to proceed with a string of recent franchised car retail developments.
Last summer it opened its new, five-storey, flagship Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) dealership in South West London.
The group has also been given the green light to build a new BMW dealership in Coventry.