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Auto Trader half-year financial results show earnings per retailer rose 9.1%

Auto Trader’s chief executive officer, Trevor Mather

Auto Trader has reported a 7% increase in revenues and a 10% rise in operating profits in its half-year financial results for the six months to September 30.

Revenues totalled £176.8m and operating profit £120.6m during the reported period, in which the online car retail specialist Auto Trader grew its average monthly revenue per used car retailer by 9.1% (£152) to £1,826.

Used car volumes on Auto Trader declined by 3% to 437,000 (H1 2018: 451,000), during the period as the number of retailer forecourts advertising on the platform declined slightly to an average of 13,153 (H1 2018: 13,213).

In a statement issued to investors, Auto Trader attributed the strong performance in a challenging marketplace to the strong uptake in a range of new products launched over the past 18 months, including Dealer Finance, which was introduced in December 2017 and has been adopted by more than 5,000 car retailers’ take-up the product.

Auto Trader said that three out of four cars listed on its online platform can now be searched by monthly payment. 

Auto Trader’s chief executive officer, Trevor Mather, said: “We have had a great first half of the year driven by strong adoption of new products and advertising packages by both retailers and manufacturers.

"Despite a more challenging automotive market, we see many examples of our customers achieving strong results in their used car businesses by using Auto Trader services which help them to select, price and most effectively advertise their vehicles."

Auto Trader reported that it has further cemented its position as the UK’s number one destination for both new and used cars. 

Claiming 55 million multi-platform visits per month, Auto Trader said that it currently represents more than 55% of the UK classifieds market – a share which it said was four times larger than its closest competitor, Gumtree Motors, and 18 times larger than Motors.co.uk.

Last month Motors.co.uk owner Cox Automotive announced that it plans to sell its online retail platform to eBay in a move that will bring it together with the Gumtree Motors offering.

A statement issued on behalf of eBay said that bringing Motors.co.uk, Gumtree Motors UK, and eBay Motors UK together – in a deal which remains subject to approval by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) – would offer more than 620,000 car listings via three shop windows, to advertise and reach 10 million unique cars buyers.

In terms of its audience engagement, Auto Trader advert views were up 1% on 2017 at an average of 247 million per month during the six month period to the end of September.

Auto Trader said that, in September 2018, potential car buyers spent an average of 588 million minutes on the platform, which it claimed was five-times longer than on Gumtree Motors. 

Mather said: "We strengthened our market leading position with our audience of car buyers, by continuing to focus on providing the best car buying and selling experience in the UK.

“We do this by providing the best choice of cars, free valuations, extensive reviews and most recently showing finance options, so that car buyers can understand the monthly cost of owning their next vehicle.”

Auto Trader said in its half-year accounts that its manufacturer and agency team had also recorded a 28% increase in revenue, which was “testament to the success of its new car proposition”.

It added: “The growth is due to uptake of its cross platform native performance product, InSearch, which provides high volume, cost effective and highly targeted advertising to influence in-market new car buyers.

“The growth of this core part of the Auto Trader business, is confirmation it has become a vital partner to automotive manufacturers; enabling them to effectively market their new cars to the UK’s largest audience of engaged new and used car buyers.”

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