13 Apr 2021
A 50% year-on-year increase in turnover has been recorded by Startline Motor Finance in the first quarter of this year.
CEO Paul Burgess explained that the result followed a rise of 20% for the whole of 2020 and, across both periods, the company had dramatically exceeded its growth targets.
“Of course, the year-on-year Q1 comparison is not entirely representative because the first total UK lockdown came into effect in mid-March 2020, closing all dealerships, and the whole of the first quarter of this year has taken place under online-only lockdown conditions.
“However, the 50% increase remains a good indicator of how we, and many of the dealers and other introducers with which we work, have outperformed a market which, in itself, was almost back to pre-pandemic trading conditions, despite sales only happening online.”
Paul said that Startline continued to benefit from two key trends that had been present almost since the start of the pandemic.
“The first is that we didn’t furlough our staff during the initial lockdown period and instead used the time to ensure we were well-prepared for the resumption of trading which occurred in early Summer. We looked at everything from our online systems to the needs of existing customers and we very much hit the ground running when used car sales got underway.
“We have not stood still on this front. What dealers and car buyers want from their motor finance provider has continued to develop during the pandemic and we’ve worked to meet those changing requirements.
“The second important trend is that the motor finance market has seen some understandable turbulence. The risk appetite of prime lenders has reduced and we are seeing more customers moving into our near-prime sector as a result.
“Our core proposition, of providing finance comparable to prime lenders to around one in four applicants who have previously been refused credit, has turned out to be very much of the moment during the coronavirus crisis.”
Paul added that Startline remained confident about the used car market’s prospects during Q2 and Q3 of 2021.
“All the signs are that the relatively buoyant trading conditions we have seen during recent months will continue, helped by a modest increase in demand resulting from the April showroom reopenings.
“The main potential downside will come in Q4 as we begin to see the effects of the end of furloughing and other government support schemes. The impact of this on the economy and the used car market is difficult to judge from this distance.”