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Cambria Automobiles trading update shows impact of COVID-19 lockdown

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Cambria Automobiles has claimed that its trading performance in the first quarter of its 2021 financial year was ahead of the previous year, despite the impact of November’s COVID-19 lockdown.

The AM100 car retail group PLC said in a trading update issued via the London Stock Exchange this morning (January 7) that it had traded well in September and October, but conceded that November trading had been impacted by the lockdown between November 5 and December 2. 

Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to follow Scotland’s lead in a return to lockdown earlier this week, it conceded that measures to combat the ongoing pandemic would have “a material impact” on its financial performance in the financial year to August 31.

The group highlighted how Tier 4 measures imposed between the November and renewed January lockdown periods had treated car showrooms in the same way, restricting them to aftersales and click and collect services.

Its update added: “There is no certainty as to how long the restrictions will be in force.”

Cambria provided its update on recent trading ahead of its AGM at 10.30am this morning.

Cambria Automobiles Aston Martin dealership at HatfieldIn an appraisal of its performance in a challenging trading environment during the period taking in September, October and November, luxury and sports car specialist Cambria said: “Notwithstanding the Lockdown impact, the Group’s trading performance for the first three months of the current financial year to 31 August 2021 has been ahead of the corresponding period in 2020.

“In the period, the new car market was down 9.4% with the private segment down 7.8% and the diesel content down 33.6%. The Group’s new vehicle unit sales for the quarter were down 12.9%, with the sales of new retail cars to private guests down 12.8%.   

While Cambria reported that its total used unit sales were down 25.9% during the first quarter of its current financial year, it said that a significant increase in gross profit per unit had served to partially offset the unit reduction.   

“Overall, the Group’s aftersales operations delivered an acceptable performance, with revenue decreasing by only 9.6%,” the update said.

Cambria reported that its cost base remains well controlled, adding that it had continued to utilise the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and is still seeing the cost reduction benefit of the business rates waiver which currently remains in place until April 2021. 

Back in September, the group said that it would be embarking on series of cost-cutting measures which will include a "significant reduction" in employee headcount due to the impact of COVID-19 lockdown.

Mark Lavery, chief executive of Cambria MotorsSpeaking at the time, chief executive Mark Lavery said: ““As a result of the actions taken the group's financial position remains robust and we are well prepared for the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Delivering its verdict on trading in the year ahead, Cambria said that December 24’s Brexit deal had come as “a relief to the group and to the automotive industry in the UK”. 

The roll-out of approved coronavirus vaccines, meanwhile, brought hope that Government could reduce its current lockdown restrictions.

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