PLCs AND CLICKS

  27 August 2013

There is a new trend emerging from the large PLC auto retail groups in their financial results statements, and that’s the inclusion of click rates.

Some are more active in this area than others. Pendragon lists its web traffic stats as part of the ‘overall highlights’ and even goes as far as including web addresses next to the business sections of its announcements.

While others, such as Lookers, just give them a passing mention. The inclusion of website traffic figures, however, raises more questions than it answers. Unlike audited accounts, website numbers are somewhat more nebulous.

For example, Pendragon stated that its UK sites (Stratstone.com, Evanshalshaw.com and Quicks.co.uk) have 12.2 million visitors on a rolling 12-month basis. If you think about that for a moment there are all sorts of questions. Are 20% of the UK population visiting a Pendragon website each year? Is Pendragon missing out on a lot of sales because it’s not selling 12.2 million cars a year. (Don’t forget the total new and used car market is probably around 9m units a year.)

As anyone who has a business with a website knows, it’s conversions to sale that actually matter. And perhaps this is my point, if any company is offering information that may impact their share price, perhaps it should be audited in a set way so that there’s a level playing-field for assessing such things, just as there is for the accounts.

However, all this aside it’s also interesting that Pendragon’s percentage increase in visitor numbers was almost identical to the percentage increase in underlying profit before tax.

Tristan Young

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