2001 has seen a new optimism in the car market according to Reg Vardy plc which released its preliminary results today repeating the familiar line amongst dealer groups in the last 12 months of 'impressive results in hard times'.
The group's turnover increased to £1,304m (2000: £1,282), while profit before tax fell from £33.2m in 2000 to £29.3m. The total number of new and used vehicles sold increased to 161,943 (2000: 155,086). Margins are down, the company said, primarily because of provisions totalling £4.2m that have been made in the accounts against the carrying values of repurchase commitments for Motability and contract hire vehicles.
Sir Peter Vardy, company chairman - knighted in the recent Queen's Birthday Honours - said: “We have good cause to be pleased with the results we have achieved considering the challenges facing motor retailing. New vehicle pricing issues, European imports, falling used vehicle values, concern about the renewal or removal of Block Exemption and suggestions that the 'clicks' of the internet would replace the 'bricks' of traditional motor dealerships all conspired to produce a very uncertain trading environment.
“Against this background, our performance in terms of turnover and growth in vehicle sales volumes was very satisfactory. Since January 1 we have seen a much more positive retail environment. Lower new car prices have stimulated retail demand and this is reflected in the group's strong performance since the start of the year.”
Among the developments outlined by Sir Peter in his statement is Vardy Central, a concept aimed at improving customer experience.
The objectives include, designing a more efficient showroom environment for customers and staff, the creation of a single group-wide database for all sales and aftersales customers, managing and recording all customer contacts through the database and linking the group's database to the internet to provide more functionality for customers.
Sir Peter expects the system to be implemented by the end of the financial year. As part of the project the group will centralise customer contacts using the internet and is planning to establish a customer contact centre in Sunderland in 2002 when Vardy Central is operating.