The UK’s top 100 most profitable car dealers made a combined £2.6bn in profit in 2021 – a huge increase of £950m compared to 2021.

Figures released today by Car Dealer Magazine – and compiled by financial advisory specialists Interpath – in its ‘Top 100’ list found that Arnold Clark once again topped the list as the UK’s most profitable dealer, recording £398.1m in profit.

The list includes both franchised and independent dealers, with the list ranked by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), with the top 10 dealers alone raking in £1.45bn in profit. That’s almost as high as the £1.65bn in profit made by the full 100 dealers in 2020.

Across the 100 dealers, overall profits had increased by 55 per cent in what Eddie Hawthorne, CEO of Arnold Clark, described as a “Carlsberg year for the motor trade”.

Hawthorne told Car Dealer: “2021 was a lot of hard work for the motor trade but it was what I would call a Carlsberg year for the motor trade and as a specialist in used cars we were able to take advantage of that.”

Used car supermarket Motorpoint was the most profitable independent dealer, with the firm amassing £32m in earnings in 2021.

Car Dealer editor-in-chief James Baggott said: “Car dealers will look back at 2021 as halcyon days for the motor trade. Dealers enjoyed plenty of tailwinds during the year that helped boost profit figures – most notably rising used car prices at a time consumers were back out spending lockdown savings.

“We’ve reported on countless car dealer group results that have remarked 2021 was their “best ever” and now this research proves what we all thought – this will likely go down as the best year for the motor trade ever.”

Huge lead times for new cars – due to supply chain issues caused by the pandemic – drove many buyers into the used market in 2021, helping to drive up prices of secondhand cars, and increasing profits for those selling them as a result.

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