Richard Hardie Group has said that “subdued retail confidence”, traffic disruption and the FCA Group's poor 2018 sales performance were to blame for a second consecutive year of pre-tax losses.
The Sunderland-based franchised car retailer saw revenues decline by 7.9%, from £56m to £51.6m, in its annual financial results to December 31, 2018, as a pre-tax loss of £218,048 followed a loss of £173,938 experienced in 2017.
Commenting on the results in an article published by Insider Media, managing director Philip Hardie, said: "The directors of Richard Hardie were disappointed by the financial results achieved in 2018, which they considered to be due to the subdued retail confidence resulting from the prevailing economic and political uncertainty.”
But the Richard Hardie financial results statement also revealed that developments to Tyneside's Silverlink (Coast Road) - near to its Fiat and Abarth retail facilities - had caused it to "suffer a reduction in both sales and profitability throughout 2018”.
It added: “Although a compensation claim was agreed with Highways England the directors consider these payments did not fully represent the losses suffered.”
The car retail group’s portfolio is dominated by FCA Group brands Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Jeep.
Richard Hardie employs about 125 people and represents Fiat in Ashington; Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Jeep in Newcastle; Fiat and Alfa Romeo at Silverlink; and Abarth, Fiat and Jeep in Sunderland.
It said: “The performance of Alfa Romeo and Fiat were particularly poor as Alfa Romeo had introduced their new products to the market and suffered over 16% volume reduction whilst Fiat’s volume reduction of 19.8% followed a reduction of 26.6% the previous year.
“The poor performance of these brands contributed significantly to the company’s poor financial performance in 2018.”
The Richard Hardie group left the Peugeot franchise when Sherwoods Group acquired its Durham business, at the same time as it completed its acquisition of the Springfield Motor Group's Gateshead Peugeot, Citroen and Suzuki franchises, in February, but added MG Motor UK to its business in Ashington, Northumberland, last month.
The FCA Group suffered another torrid time in the recent results of the National Franchised Dealers Association Dealer Attitude Survey Summer 2019.
As AM reported in the market intelligence section of the current magazine, dealers used the survey to air their dissatisfaction with the manufacturer group’s finance offers, along with other franchise issues.