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Caffyns ‘should be doing better’

Industry insiders are critical of the slow progress made by Caffyns, half way through its three-year recovery programme.

Turnover in the half-year to September 30 was £94.991 million, up from £85.484 million year-on-year, but profit before tax at 0.8% compared with 0.7%.

"Caffyns has good brands in good locations, and should be doing much better,” says one consultant. “The group has three Audi centres – at Brighton, Eastbourne and Hove – which alone should be contributing £1 million in profit."

Two years ago, Caffyns reported tumbling profits, mainly as a result of failing to take action ahead of the collapse of MG Rover, unlike other groups which reduced their exposure.

Simon Caffyn, chief executive, is viewed as a capable executive who is making progress, though some believe he is hampered by varying opinions of family shareholders.

With car and light commercial retail points on and near the south coast, Caffyns is well positioned as a regional group.

Critics say it is failing to make the most of its advantages, and that its retailing methods lag behind those of the UK’s more successful dealer groups.

Caffyns’ six-month profit before tax and exceptional items was up to £759,000 from £643,000. In March, it received £3 million from HM Revenue & Customs, following a claim for £1.4m for overpaid VAT on demonstrator bonuses, with an additional £1.6m in interest.

Caffyns continues to make property deals. If planning permission for redevelopment is granted, the group will receive £4.5m for a vacant freehold plot at Hove.

Caffyns chairman Brian Carte said pressures on margins caused by “external economic and competitive factors” continue to restrict improvements in profits. Carte expects further improved performance “when the economy returns to a more stable level”.

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