Turnover for the year increased by 14% to a record level of £1.1bn, with operating before goodwill and exceptionals at £21.5m, an increase of 20%.
These results represent a milestone for the business with turnover breaking through the £1bn mark for the first time in the group’s history. Profit before tax for the year was £26.5m, an increase of 17% on 2003.
Operating margin on continuing businesses improved 1.9% in 2003 to 2.1% in 2004. Working capital has also been controlled, resulting in an increase in operating cash flow before non-operating exceptional items for the year from £17m in 2004 to £43m in 2004, the company said today.
During 2004, Lookers acquired a number of dealerships, including the Volkswagen franchise for Northallerton and Darlington, and Saab in Chester.
Lookers also entered the car parts aftermarket with the acquisition of FPS Distribution.
In addition, the company also bought Bristol Trade Centre, the largest car supermarket in the South West.
“Going forward, our strategy for growth involves identifying key expansion opportunities which will improve the quality of our earnings, building on our aftersales capability and significantly strengthening our used car operations,” says Lookers chairman, Fred Maguire.
“We forecast a slight reduction in new car registrations for 2005. Whilst this may be the case, we must not lose sight of the fact that demand for new cars has exceeded 2.4m units in every year since 2001.
“We believe we are well placed to prosper this year given our focus on the aftersales market through our ‘Customer for Life’ programmes and the addition of FPS Distribution.”