Pendragon takes hit from Covid restrictions

Car dealership Pendragon lost £31 million in the first half of the year as it battled Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The Evans Halshaw Car Store in Shrewsbury
The Evans Halshaw Car Store in Shrewsbury

The group saw revenue fall 43.4 per cent to £1.21 billion for the period to June 30, with the group making wide use of the government support offered to businesses. At one point, 80 per cent of its workforce was furloughed.

The group, which includes Evans Halshaw and Stratstone, said its performance prior to the pandemic had been "encouraging".

There are Evans Halshaw dealerships in Shrewsbury, Stourbridge, Walsall and Wolverhampton, and Stratstone sites in Wolverhampton.

The bitter blow of the pandemic came after the group started the year ahead of 2019 with trading up – January and February were £5.1 million ahead of the same period last year.

However, as the crisis took hold, Pendragon fell to a loss of £2.3 million in the first quarter.

And it was the second quarter that cost the group dearly where it clocked up a £28.7 million loss, driven by the closures of dealerships in April and May.

Pendragon returned to profitability in June, though, after dealers were allowed to reopen on June 1.

Bill Berman, chief executive, said: "The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our business during the period, however, thanks to the agility, hard work and commitment of our people, we have performed resiliently.

"We’ve been encouraged by the first few months of trading following reopening and, while the outlook for the remainder of the year remains uncertain, we are confident the operational improvements we have made leave us well-positioned for the long-term.

"We recently set out our new strategy with digital innovation and operational excellence at its core. Both will be instrumental in transforming Pendragon’s performance and we have made great progress in both areas already this year.

"While there is some distance still to travel, we remain firmly committed to achieving our twin goals of sustainable profit growth and attractive returns for shareholders.’

The dealer group has bounced back since the reopening, though, with summer trading buoyant. July and August clocked up a profit of £7 million, an increase of £19 million on last year when the group clocked up a £12 million loss.

Cost cutting played a significant role in the improved numbers with like-for-like costs down 18 per cent.

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