Lookers shares up 14% after strong first quarter

Shares of Altrincham-based car dealership Lookers plc rose about 14% on Thursday after it published a first-quarter trading update for the three-month period ended March 31, 2021.

Lookers said that based on its “better than expected performance” in Q1, its expectation for underlying profit before tax for the full year ended December 31, 2021, is now materially ahead of the current analyst consensus of £22.6 million.

“In line with Covid-19 restrictions, the group’s dealerships remained closed throughout Q1,” said Lookers.

“However, the group continued to take orders and fulfil vehicle handovers through its dealership teams, call centres and website.

“These activities were underpinned by our new Click and Drive and contactless technology platform, which has allowed us to service the increased demand through digital channels.

“The group’s aftersales services were fully operational throughout Q1.

Despite the restrictions, Q1 trading performance was better than expected.

“The group sold over 44,000 (2020: 49,000) new and used vehicles which, combined with the resilient aftersales performance and strong control of costs, has led to Q1 performance being ahead of board expectations.”

In its outlook, Lookers said: “In line with the planned easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the group’s dealerships in England will re-open on 12 April 2021 …

“Given ongoing uncertainty around both Covid-19 and consumer sentiment, the board believes it is right to remain cautious about the outlook for the remainder of the year.

“However, based on the better than expected performance in Q1, the board’s expectation for underlying profit before tax for the full year ended 31 December 2021 is now materially ahead of the current analyst consensus.”

Lookers CEO Mark Raban said: “Despite the challenges presented by the third national lockdown, we have performed ahead of our expectations in Q1.

“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.

“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.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.