THE boss of fast-expanding Vertu Motors is bullish about the UK economy after his business reported a further six months of strong growth.
The Gateshead group, which trades from 86 sales and after-sales outlets mainly under the Bristol Street Motors brand, boosted sales by 14.8% to £628.1m in the six months to the end of August. Pre-tax profits jumped by 26.8% to £5.2m.
The improving new car market fuelled a 7.9% like-for-like increase in volumes, while used vehicle volumes and margins jumped by 13.2%. Vertu said it now expects to beat full-year market expectations and investors were impressed with the figures and sent its share price up nearly 9% yesterday to close at 38.1p.
Chief executive Robert Forrester said: “We are obviously pleased with these. They are a good set of numbers. The analysts have now upgraded our full-year forecast and our share price went up this morning.
“Market conditions have improved and this is reflected in higher sales volumes in both new and used cars.
“We have grown the group; we have 3,250 employees, the board is confident and the dividend is going up as well. All aspects of the business have grown.”
That includes the Gateshead headquarters, which now has 160 staff, a rise of 30 so far this year.
“We keep adding extra employees at our Gateshead centre. We are almost always recruiting,” said Forrester.
“There were four people there five years ago.”