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Marshall CEO Daksh Gupta says the group is ‘going for it’ in 2021

Daksh Gupta, Marshall Motor Holdings chief executive

Marshall chief executive Daksh Gupta has told AM that the car retail PLC will be “going for it” in 2021 after upgrading its profit forecast, repaying its deferred VAT payments and vowing to forego the CRJS in the new year.

A buoyant Gupta said that the group had raced to notify the London Stock Exchange of its improved prediction of an underlying profit before tax for the year ending December 31, 2020, of "not less than" £19m after compiling its results from the ‘Lockdown 2’ impacted November trading period.

But his optimism extended way beyond success in a challenging Q4.

The business announced in today’s trading update that it had voluntarily repaid all amounts from which it benefitted under the Government's VAT Payment Deferral Scheme (£10.9m) 18 months early, adding that it was its current intention not to utilise the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in 2021.

Gupta told AM: “It’s about mindset and attitude.

“A lot of companies are planning to use furlough because it’s still there in Q1, but that’s not our intention.

“We want to approach 2021 positively, to give our colleagues and customers some sort of normality, and end all this ‘on off, on off’. We’re going for it.”

Describing his approach to 2021, Gupta said: “One, we don’t make profit by saving costs, we make profit by selling things.

“Two, we’ve got to be in it to win it and we’re setting our stall out that that’s what we’re going to do.”

Marshall will launch a new customer website later this month, with a reserve online function.

Gupta said that the group had reserve online six years ago, but customers’ embrace of digital trading had been one of the key changes in the market since COVID-19 hit.

Marshall’s aftersales were down just 3.8% year-on-year during October and November and Gupta said that more efficient processes – along with customers’ compliance with scheduled aftersales appointments – had both proved to be key drivers.

As the group claimed to outperform the sector in new and used cars sales – leveraging click and collect to deliver cars during November – Gupta said that improved profit from limited sales volumes had been vital to improved profitability.

He said that the group’s new car stock was currently down around 25% year-on-year amid COVID-19 triggered supply constraints, and he said: “If, a year ago, we or a manufacturer had said ‘back off on your volumes by 20% or 30% to make more margins’, they’d think you were delusional, but we’ve all adapted and seen the benefits.

“With all of these things we have learned and adapted and I think we’ll emerge stronger and more resilient in 2021 because of it.”

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