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Price changes and cost reduction help Auto Trader on to £100m profit

Almost two thirds of Auto Trader’s £153.9m half-year revenues have been turned into profit.

The market-leading car marketplace recorded a 21% rise in operating profits to £100.6m as its revenues for the six months to September 25 rose 11% to 153.9m.

It said the growth was down to ‘retailer rate reviews’ and a 7% reduction in the cost base following lower spend on headcount, marketing, overheads and depreciation and amortisation.

In contrast, industry data shows the average franchised dealer’s profitability is on the decline.

Auto Trader’s net external debt was reduced to £359.5m from £457.4m.

During the half-year, cross-platform visits increased by 36% to 58.5m, with the consumer audience four times larger than that of its nearest competitor, it said.

In addition, advert views were up 4% to 250m.

Average revenue per retailer forecourt per month was up 13% or £179 to £1,526, thanks to price changes and added-value initiatives.

However the number of retailer forecourts advertising on Auto Trader dropped 1% to 13,374, reflecting a drop in smaller retailers of cars and those advertising other vehicles.

Chief executive Trevor Mather said: "We have felt no discernible change in the competitive environment and no noticeable impact from Brexit to date.

"We remain focused on creating a simpler and more efficient marketplace, as well as enhancing the experience we deliver to consumers. Trust and transparency are key purchase drivers in today's consumer buying journey. Auto Trader's recent Market Report found that only 7% of consumers trust car retailers.

"We have therefore continued to improve our consumer experience by launching products and services such as dealer reviews and vehicle check that promote greater trustworthiness in retailers, as well as providing real time valuations that help to improve transparency in the car buying process.”


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