Aston Martin sets aside £30m to navigate any Brexit-related disruption

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 28th Feb 2019) London, Uk – –

The luxury carmaker says 2018 proved an “outstanding” year and it is on track to handle the UK's looming departure from the EU.

Aston Martin Lagonda has used its first annual results since its stock market debut to announce a £30m fund to help navigate any Brexit-related disruption.

The luxury carmaker, which listed on the London Stock Exchange last October, said its board had approved “plans for up to £30m of advanced working capital and/or operating expenses” linked to the UK's departure from the EU.

The decision marks the latest in a string of actions by the car industry in the run-up to the 29 March deadline – with the sector firmly opposed to a no-deal scenario.

Aston has made no secret of the fact its business is less exposed to the possibility of extra tariffs and supply disruption than its high volume rivals such as Nissan, Honda and Jaguar Land Rover.

All three have made headlines in recent weeks for investment decisions such as Honda's decision to shut its Swindon plant – though Brexit has only formed part of the story as weaknesses in the global economy have dominated.

The industry lobby group the SMMT separately reported on Thursday that UK car exports to China fell 72% in January.

Aston Martin – best known worldwide for its association with the James Bond movie franchise – said it had enjoyed sales growth across all regions in 2018 – including China.

It reported record revenue of £1.1bn – a rise of 25% on 2017 – though its bottom line was hit by a series of costs including £136m linked to its stock market listing.

The company achieved a pre-tax loss of £68.2m following profits of £85m the previous year.

It said of its Brexit preparations: “To date the company has spent a minimal amount (on racking and packaging) and has committed, but not spent, (around) £2m on revised supply chain routes.

“Whilst we are mindful of these external factors and the uncertain and more challenging external environment, particularly in the UK and Europe, we remain disciplined in our execution and maintain our guidance for financial year 2019, whilst also reconfirming our medium-term objectives”.

Shares were up to 13% lower in early trading – with the company losing a third of its market value since flotation.

The company said its expansion – including plans for its first sports utility vehicle, the DBX, were progressing well.

Chief executive Dr Andy Palmer said: “2018 was an outstanding year for Aston Martin Lagonda, delivering strong growth, with improving revenues, unit sales and adjusted profits.

“As the UK's only listed luxury automotive group, we have demonstrated our legitimacy in the global luxury market.

“Our well-defined expansion plans, that combine outstanding high-performance cars with iconic brand-status, are on track as we manage through the uncertainties and disruption impacting the wider auto industry.

“Given our progress on the Second Century plan – including completion of our new manufacturing plant at St Athan and our preparations for the DBX, we are confident that Aston Martin Lagonda will deliver another year of growth.

“Whilst we are mindful of the uncertain and more challenging external environment, particularly in the UK and Europe, we remain disciplined in our execution and maintain our guidance for financial year 2019, whilst also reconfirming our medium-term objectives.”

He later told the Reuters news agency that any delay to the Brexit process would be a “further annoyance” – adding: “You're holding that contingency stock for longer which means that your working capital is tied up for longer.

“More importantly, what you're doing is you're creating continued uncertainty,” he said.


By James Sillars, business reporter