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Auto Trader half-year operating profits up 121% to £151.7m

Auto Trader chief executive, Nathan Coe

Auto Trader has posted a 121% increase in operating profit to £151.7 million for the half year ended September 30.

The group recorded revenue of £215.4 million up 82% (H1 FY21: £118.2 million), and up 15% on H1 FY20 (£186.7 million).

Average Revenue Per Retailer (ARPR) increased by 82% to £2,199 (H1 2021: £1,206).

Much of the increase came from COVID related discounts which were offered to retailers in the prior year and due to their absence in FY2022 contributed £640 of growth.

Taking account of those discounts there was an underlying increase in ARPR of £353 which was spread across Auto Trader's price, stock and product levers. 

The results mark a return to profits after the business suffered a 29% decline in revenues and 38% reduction in operating profit from its full year results last year.

In H1 FY21, Auto Trader provided free advertising to its retailer customers in April and May 2020, as well as at a discounted rate in June 2020.

Nathan Coe, Chief Executive Officer of Auto Trader Group, said: “Early in the pandemic we acted decisively to protect our people, customers, and business.

“As a result of these actions we have emerged as a stronger business with more retailers and car buyers using our platform than at any time in our history.

“Despite restricted supply our financial performance has reflected this strength as more retailers have adopted more products, including market extension, which enables retailers to reach car buyers outside their local area.”

 Coe said the business is well positioned to partner with retailers and manufacturers to bring more of the car buying journey online, which Auto Trader believes will provide “significant long-term growth opportunities for both our customers and Auto Trader”.

Auto Trader said over 75% of all time spent on automotive classified websites is spent on its platform, which it says is now nine times larger than its nearest competitor.

Auto Trader’s audience increased with average monthly cross platform visits up by 20% to 68.7 million per month (H1 FY21: 57.3 million).

Engagement, which is measured by total minutes spent on site, was also strong with an increase of 14% to an average of 633 million minutes per month (H1 FY21: 557 million minutes).

Diversity and inclusion

Auto Trader is a Gold Patron of the Automotive 30% Club which aims to get more women into leadership positions by 2030.

Although the business acknowledges there remains room for improvement, women represented 39% of its organisation (March 2021: 39%) with 36% in leadership roles (March 2021: 34%).

The business said it is committed to increasing the percentage of BAME employees, who currently represent 12% of the organisation (March 2021: 11%). The percentage of BAME employees in leadership was 5% (March 2021: 6%).

Investing in digital retailing

In April 2021, Auto Trader launched Retailer Stores, which offers retailers their own customisable destination on Auto Trader.

During the last six months over 28m visits to these pages were made.

The company launched a new product, Market Extension, which enables retailers’ stock to appear in a search - as available for home delivery and / or click and collect - outside of their normal local market. The business said this has "significantly extended retailers’ sales reach to new audiences, without the need for new locations or the need to repatriate stock across a group".

Auto Trader launched its Instant Cash Offer service in August, which has provided consumers with an alternative to selling privately, with a ‘no-haggle’ cash price for their car, free home collection, no administration fees and immediate payment as soon as the offer is accepted.

These cars are then made available through Dealer Auction, enabling any retailer to add this as a source of used car retail stock.

Through Guaranteed Part-Exchange service (GPX), it has also moved the part-exchange journey online.  Over the past six months (March-September), Auto Trader has provided approximately 520,000 guaranteed valuations and purchased 5,000 vehicles on Instant Offer.

Auto Trader acquired AutoConvert in July 2020 and is expecting to integrate a point-of-sale finance system and finance application journey with a live trial in the second half of the financial year.

The business has also launched a small trial for vehicle reservations completing over 100 successful transactions so far.

The wider business objective is to bring GPX, reservations and finance together into one package so all retailers and car buyers can complete more of the car buying process online to "compliemnt the retailer's forecourt experience".

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