UK car dealer Pendragon turns profitable after first-half loss

© Reuters. File photo of a man passing cars on a showroom forecourt in west London

(Reuters) – British auto dealer Pendragon (L:) said on Tuesday strong performance since the easing of COVID-19 lockdowns helped it return to profitability in July and August, after posting a smaller first-half loss.

However, the company, which operates the Evans Halshaw, Stratstone, Quickco and Car Store brands, did not reinstate full-year outlook over uncertainties that may exist once the government withdraws its support programs.

Pendragon said the pandemic would cost the company 44.1 million pounds this year.

The global health crisis has compounded troubles for UK car dealers, which were already facing muted demand and pressured margins on Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

Pendragon in July announced plans to cut 1,800 jobs and close 15 loss-making stores as it dealt with pandemic-induced disruptions. Rivals Inchcape (L:) and Lookers (L:) have also taken similar measures.

Chief Executive Officer Bill Berman said the first few months following the reopening were “encouraging”, adding that the company remains well-positioned for the long-term despite an uncertain outlook for the rest of the year.

Shares in Pendragon were up 3.3% at 7.84 pence in early trading. They are down more than 40% so far this year.

Pendragon posted an underlying profit before tax of 7 million pounds for July and August, compared with a loss of 12 million pounds in the same period last year.

Underlying pretax loss narrowed to 31 million pounds in the six months ended June 30 from 32.2 million pounds.

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