Record profits for owner of car dealer Taggarts

Lookers, the motor retailer that owns the Taggarts brand north of the Border, has reported record half-year profits after sales jumped by a third.

Lookers' stable of marques includes Audi. Picture: Contributed
Lookers' stable of marques includes Audi. Picture: Contributed

The group, which runs more than 150 dealerships across the UK and Ireland, said revenues for the six months to the end of June motored ahead to £2.3 billion, up from £1.75bn a year earlier, helping adjusted pre-tax profits gain 16 per cent to £50.1 million.

Chief executive Andy Bruce said the “excellent” results were driven by having the “right brands and locations”, while its parts division – which is being sold to Alliance Automotive for £120m in cash – also put in a “good” performance, with pre-tax profits up 3 per cent at £7.5m.

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Bruce added that the sale of the parts operation, due to complete in October, would allow Lookers to “concentrate on what we do best; focusing on our motor division to buy and sell cars, and add value through acquisitions”. Earlier this week, the group announced a £55.4m deal to buy Midlands-focused Mercedes and Smart specialist Drayton.

“The sale of the parts division is a great opportunity to shift our strategy and to focus on the higher-growth division of the business,” he said.

The group’s Taggarts arm, which has sites in Glasgow and Motherwell, operates Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, Nissan, Peugeot and Volvo franchises, while the former Lomond business – acquired in 2012 and since rebranded as Lookers Audi – runs locations in Ayr, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hamilton and Stirling.

On the back of its increased profits, Lookers said shareholders would receive a 20 per cent hike in their interim dividend to 1.28p a share, to be paid on 25 November.

While chairman Phil White acknowledged that June’s surprise vote to leave the European Union had created a “degree of uncertainty” over the UK’s economic outlook, “it is fair to say that we have not noticed any significant difference in terms of customer behaviour so far, particularly in respect of orders for new and used cars”.

Across the UK, new car registrations lifted just 0.1 per cent last month, according to latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), but Lookers said the market remains “relatively healthy”.