Latest Results

Final Results

 

“Continued growth in capacity underpins full year of net cash generation”

Anexo Group plc (AIM: ANX), the specialist integrated credit hire and legal services provider, announces its final results for the year ended 31 December 2020 (the ‘period’ or ‘FY 2020’).

 

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Financial Highlights

  • Revenue increased by 10.5% to £86.8 million (2019: £78.5 million)
  • Operating profit reported at £18.1 million (2019: £24.6 million), a reduction of 26.6% in line with market expectations
  • Adjusted1 operating profit before exceptional items in line with market expectations, declining by 25.9% to £18.7 million (2019: £25.3 million)
  • Adjusted1 operating profit margin reduced to 21.6% (2019: 32.2%)
  • Profit before tax of £15.5 million (2019: £22.4 million), a reduction of 30.8%
  • Adjusted1 profit before tax and exceptional items reported at £16.1 million, (2019: £23.0 million), a decline of 29.9% after £6.5 million of investment in staff, VW case acquisition costs and IT costs associated with the headcount increase
  • Adjusted2 basic EPS at 11.4 pence (2019: 17.0 pence)
  • Proposed final dividend of 1 penny per share giving a total dividend for the year of 1.5 pence per share (2019: 1.5 pence per share)
  • Net assets reported at £110.4 million (2019: £91.7 million) representing an increase of 20.4%
  • Reduction in net cash outflows from operating activities reporting a net cash inflow of £0.2 million in 2020 (2019: net cash outflow: £0.8 million)
  • Net debt balance at 31 December 2020 was £40.5 million (31 December 2019: £36.2 million)

Note: The basis of preparation of the consolidated financial statements for the current and previous year is set out in the Financial Review.

1. Adjusted operating profit and profit before tax: excludes share‑based payment charges in 2019 and 2020. A reconciliation to reported (IFRS) results is included in the Financial Review.

2. Adjusted EPS: adjusted PBT less tax at statutory rate divided by the weighted number of shares in issue during the year.

Financial and Operational KPIs

  • During 2020 the Group has seen continued improvement in a number of key performance measures (detailed below). These have resulted in a transition from cash absorption to cash generation by the Group, notwithstanding the issues faced during 2020 from COVID-19. This trend is particularly pleasing with an increase in the number of new cases funded, rising from 6,959 to 7,535. This illustrates increased investment in our portfolio of cases and is supported by growth in cash collections, which rose by 16.4% in the year to reach £98.0 million in FY 2020.
  • This improvement has been supported by investment in legal staff. In 2019, the number of senior fee earners grew by almost 43% to reach 127 at the year end. Further recruitment in 2020 has resulted in headcount growing by a further 18 staff (an increase of 14%) to end the year at 145 senior fee earners.
KPI’s 20202019% movement
Total revenues (£’000s) 86,752 78,510 10.5%
Gross profit (£’000s) 67,952 62,807 8.2%
Adjusted operating profit (£000’s) 18,708 25,250 (25.9%)
Adjusted operating profit margin (%) 21.6% 32.2% (33.9%)
Vehicles on hire at the year-end (no) 1,613 1,308 23.3%
Average vehicles on hire for the year (no) 1,515 1,454 4.2%
Number of hire cases settled 5,236 4,938 6.0%
Cash collections from settled cases (£’000s) 97,977 84,140 16.4%
New cases funded (no) 7,535 6,959 8.3%
Senior fee earners at period end (no) 145 127 14.2%
Average number of senior fee earners (no) 140 111 26.1%

 

Commenting on the Final Results, Alan Sellers, Executive Chairman of Anexo Group plc, said:

“I am delighted to report that the Group has achieved the milestone of net cash generation throughout the Financial Year. This achievement is especially notable given the disruption we experienced throughout the year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We continue to focus on increasing cash settlements through the expansion of our Legal Services division while using our working capital to underpin growth in our Credit Hire division. Vehicle numbers were very robust, particularly in the second half of the year, despite the pandemic.

“Both our business divisions have remained fully operational throughout the 2020 and into 2021 and the Group has demonstrated considerable resilience. Ongoing investment into our advocacy practice is forming a solid foundation for our strategy of building this into a major contributor to future revenues.

“The arrival of DBAY Advisors Limited as a significant shareholder is a major vote of confidence in the Group’s strategy and management and we look forward to working closely with DBAY to ensure continued expansion of our main business divisions and to create value for all our shareholders.

“The Board remains confident of the Group’s capacity for organic growth. We believe that we have proved the resilience of our business in the difficult circumstances we continue to experience. Given our strong financial position we believe that Anexo is well positioned to continue its growth trajectory and deliver profitable growth to our shareholders. The Board is pleased to propose a dividend of 1 penny.”

 

Analyst Briefing

A conference call for analysts will be held at 9.30am today, 27 April 2021.  A copy of the Final Results presentation is available at the Group's website: https://www.anexo-group.com/content/investors/presentations 

An audio webcast of the conference call with analysts will be available after 12pm today: https://event.on24.com/wcc/r/3063539/DB628CDF975F247DFBBB7EEC5A618D78 

 

Chairman's Statement

On behalf of the Board, I am pleased to report a year of solid performance by the Group in the face of considerable nationwide challenges. Despite the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Group remained fully operational throughout both the year’s national lockdowns and achieved the significant milestone of net cash generation. These results reflect our policy of increasing cash settlements through the expansion of our Legal Services division, while using our working capital to maximum effect to ensure growth in our Credit Hire division. The parallel investment in our advocacy practice will help this to become a major contributor to future revenues.

2020 also saw a significant change in the ownership structure of the Group with DBAY Advisors Limited (‘DBAY’) agreeing to acquire a minority stake of 29.0% of the issued share capital of the Group from myself, Samantha Moss and Valentina Slater at a price of 150 pence per share. Whilst the transaction will not result in any changes operationally, the Group plans to work closely with DBAY to continue the expansion of its Credit Hire and Legal Services divisions and is committed to the creation of value for all its shareholders.

DBAY is an international asset management firm with offices in the Isle of Man and London. It set up its first investment vehicle in 2008 and now manages investments on behalf of institutional investors, family offices, pension funds, trusts and foundations in various funds.  DBAY is owned by members of the firm on a partnership basis.

With this development and continuing expansion of the core business in challenging times we believe that the Group is well positioned for robust growth in 2021 and beyond.

 

Group Performance

Anexo delivered a strong performance during a period of sustained investment in our infrastructure. Despite the initial disruption caused by the national lockdowns in March and November, trading recovered swiftly and levels of activity across our divisions remained high. As a result, Group revenues in 2020 increased by 10.5% to £86.8 million (2019: £78.5 million). Adjusted profit before tax fell 29.9% to £16.1 million (2019: £23.0million), reflecting expenditure of £6.5 million on investment in staff, VW case acquisition and IT costs associated with the headcount increase. This adjusted figure is in line with market expectations.

The emphasis in early 2020 was on cash generation. During 2019, cash absorption reduced from £7.0 million in the first half of the year to £1.5 million in the second half. This trend continued over the first half of 2020 and at the interim stage the Group was able to report an overall net cash inflow of £2.4 million. This achievement was a milestone for the Group and one of which the Board remains very proud, particularly in light of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The second half of the year saw a number of competitors withdrawing from the market and the Group took this opportunity to expand its network of introducer garages. At the same time the Group continued the expansion of staff numbers and the necessary supporting infrastructure. As a result of this ongoing investment in both divisions, the period was one of cash absorption rather than generation.

The Board is delighted to announce that, notwithstanding the impact of the two national lockdowns and the programme of investment expenditure, the Group achieved a net cash inflow for the year of £0.2 million (2019: net cash outflow: £0.8 million). This position was reached after investment in the VW Emissions case of £2.9 million (2019: £0.9 million). Excluding this expenditure, the Group’s core business generated a net cash inflow from operations of £3.1 million in 2020 (2019: £0.1 million).

The Group took a series of prudent steps in the second half of the year to reinforce its balance sheet in the light of the pandemic. The placing of 6.0 million new shares at the end of June raised £6.9 million of new funds after expenses. In addition, the Group secured an investment of £2.1 million from a litigation funder to support its investment in the VW emissions class action and a further £5.0 million was drawn down from Secure Trust plc under the Government-backed CLBILS scheme. These transactions have resulted in a significant improvement in cash headroom for the Group.

 

Credit Hire division

The Group’s Credit Hire division, EDGE, saw record performance in vehicle provision during the year. The number of new vehicle hires initially saw a sharp decline upon the implementation of the first national lockdown in March. However, a large number of EDGE customers are classed as key workers, including couriers (who have been extremely active throughout the pandemic) as well as health professionals, teachers, nursery staff, emergency workers and supermarket personnel. As a consequence, vehicle numbers recovered strongly and reached record levels prior to the announcement of the second national lockdown in October. The number of vehicles on hire at the end of 2020 rose 23.3% to 1,613 (2019: 1,308) and the average number of vehicles on hire throughout the financial year rose 4.2% to 1,515 (2019: 1,454).

Revenues within the Credit Hire division grew by 7.5% to £51.6 million (2019: £48.0 million). The Group maintains its claims acceptance strategy of deploying its resources into the most valuable claims, thereby growing claims while preserving working capital. This policy, combined with increased costs incurred as a result of COVID-19 requirements, led to a reduction of 2.3% in gross profit to £33.5 million (2019: £34.3 million). The Group monitors its fleet size constantly, enabling it to respond quickly to changes in demand and strategic priorities by deploying its vehicles appropriately. Focus remains firmly on McAMS, the motorcycle division, reflecting the fact that, on average, a motorcycle claim has the same value as a car claim with a significantly lower take-on cost.

 

Legal Services division

The Group’s Legal Services division, Bond Turner, has continued its focus on cash collections and corresponding investment in staff to drive increased case settlements. This strategy, coupled with our conservative recognition policies, has had a significant impact on financial performance. Revenues within the Legal Services division, which strongly converts to cash, increased by 15.2% to £35.2 million (2019: £30.5 million). The continued growth of the Bolton office, which opened in December 2018, and the opening of the Leeds office scheduled for the beginning of 2021 have provided considerable opportunities for recruitment. During the pandemic, the Group has seen a number of competitors withdrawing from the market and embarking on a run-off strategy; in addition, a number of high-quality staff at competitor firms were placed on furlough. Taking advantage of these recruitment opportunities means that staff numbers have risen at all levels. At the end of December staff numbers within Bond Turner stood at 518, a 17.2% increase on the 2019 figure of 442. Of these, a total of 145 were senior fee earners, up 14.2% (2019: 127).

 

VW Emissions Case

The marketing campaign around the class action against Volkswagen AG (‘VW’) and its subsidiaries (the ‘VW Emissions Case’) has continued throughout 2020. A judgment announced in the High Court of Justice on 6 April 2020 found that VW had indeed subverted key air pollution tests. VW was subsequently refused permission to appeal that judgment.

Bond Turner is acting on behalf of a number of individuals who have registered claims against VW and is currently engaged on approximately 14,356 cases. The marketing campaign has been largely conducted via social media channels as well as via the use of internal customer records. The campaign is ongoing, with all marketing costs being written off as incurred.

The Board believes that, in the event of a settlement, the percentage of potential damages and associated costs accruing to Anexo would have a significant positive impact on the Group's expectations for profits and cash flow for the relevant accounting period. There is no certainty that a settlement in favour of Bond Turner's clients will be reached, nor is there any guarantee that such a settlement would include financial compensation. The timeline for progress towards a potential settlement is also unclear and no assumptions as to revenue have been included in the Board’s internal forecasts for FY 2021.

 

Dividends

The Board is pleased to propose a final dividend of 1.0 pence per share which, if approved at the Annual General Meeting to be held on 16 June 2021, will be paid on 20 July 2021 to those shareholders on the register at the close of business on 25 June 2021.  The shares will become ex-dividend on 24 June 2021. An interim dividend of 0.5 pence per share was paid on 23 September 2020 and that combined with the final dividend takes the total dividend for the year to 1.5 pence per share (2019: 1.5 pence per share).

 

Corporate Governance

Anexo values corporate governance highly and the Board believes that effective corporate governance is integral to the delivery of the Group’s corporate strategy, the generation of shareholder value and the safeguarding of our shareholders’ long-term interests.

As Chairman, I am responsible for the leadership of the Board and for ensuring its effectiveness in all aspects of its role.  The Board is responsible for the Group’s strategic development, monitoring and achievement of its business objectives, oversight of risk and maintaining a system of effective corporate governance.  I will continue to draw upon my experience to help ensure that the Board delivers maximum shareholder value.

 

Our employees and stakeholders

The strong performance of the Group reflects the dedication and quality of the Group’s employees.  We rely on the skills, experience and commitment of our team to drive the business forward. Their enthusiasm, innovation and performance remain key assets of the Group and are vital to its future success.  On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank all of our employees, customers, suppliers, business partners and shareholders for their continued support over the last year.

 

COVID-19 Update

The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic inevitably caused some disruption to the Group’s operations. The Group's operations are, however, categorised as essential businesses and as such have been exempted throughout from government restrictions.  Its businesses supply and service a broad range of customers who are involved in a non-fault accident and who would otherwise be unable to access the mobility they need.  Among these, the Group provides replacement vehicles to many key workers, including couriers (who are increasingly active during the current circumstances) and other customers such as doctors, nurses, schoolteachers, nursery staff, emergency workers and supermarket personnel.

The Group's core businesses have continued to be fully operational following the reintroduction of a national lockdown. Activity levels in the Credit Hire Division (EDGE) continue to be high.  The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a number of the Group's competitors withdrawing from the market and, as a result, Anexo has been approached by a number of high-quality introducer garages looking for new partnerships.  The Group has taken advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to expand its introducer network. Vehicles continue to be delivered and collected by staff who are protected in line with government guidelines.  All returned vehicles are valeted as a matter of course before being allocated to a new customer and comprehensive cleaning procedures are being rigorously enforced.

The courts remain open, as they have done throughout the year, and notwithstanding a decline in court listings as a result of COVID, the Group's Legal Services division, Bond Turner, has continued to reach case settlements via telephone and online hearings where necessary. The progression and settlement of cases has been aided by moves from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), supported by the Judiciary, to allow the remote operation of courts through online and telephone hearings. Many staff have returned to office working while observing social distancing guidelines and extensive COVID safety measures have been implemented. The Bond Turner offices have remained accessible 24 hours a day during recent months and the division has remained fully operational at all times.

EDGE, the Group's Credit Hire division, has also remained fully operational throughout 2020. Following the lifting of the first lockdown, the majority of the Group's introducer garages returned to normal working practices and any existing backlog of repair work was cleared. Some introducer garages have once again suspended work as a result of the second lockdown but fewer delays to repair work are being experienced.

Due to the unprecedented global impacts of Covid-19, the Company has continually re-assessed and analysed its business strategy with the key focus being minimising the impact on critical work streams, ensuring business continuity and conserving cash flows. As such, increased stakeholder engagement and open communication have become increasingly important in decision making for the Board.

While the Covid-19 crisis has interrupted our regular physical face to face interactions with various stakeholders internally and externally, we do consider them to be important in maintaining open communications and team cohesion and will be reintroducing these gradually provided it is safe to do so in line with Government guidelines and the needs of individual attendees. In the meantime, we have taken advantage of various video conferencing platforms where appropriate.

 

Current Trading and Outlook

As our financial performance and KPI’s have demonstrated, the Group has continued to perform throughout a period of significant uncertainly, improving vehicle numbers and cash collections to record levels during 2020, demonstrating the strength and resilience of the Group during the current COVID-19 crisis. Whilst others have made redundancies, furloughed staff and withdrawn from the credit hire market, we have continued recruitment. This has impacted our reported financial performance in 2020 but these investments have been made to support continued growth into 2021 and beyond.

As a Board we developed a plan for managing the Group during this ever-changing year and continue to react to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. The expansion of the national vaccination programme and the relaxation of national lockdown from April 2021 has resulted in an increase in opportunities and vehicles on the road, consistent with the trends seen in 2020.

While uncertainties remain given the current environment, I continue to have great confidence in the strategy post COVID and look to the future with continued optimism.

 

Alan Sellers

Executive Chairman

27th April 2021

 

Financial Review

Basis of Preparation

As previously reported, Anexo Group Plc was incorporated on 27 March 2018, acquired its subsidiaries on 15 June 2018, and was admitted to AIM on 20 June 2018 (the ‘IPO’).  Further details are included within the accounting policies.

To provide comparability across reporting periods, the results within this Financial Review are presented on an “underlying” basis, adjusting for the £0.7 million charge recorded for share-based payments in 2019 and the £0.7m charge for share-based payments in 2020.

A reconciliation between underlying and reported results is provided at the end of this Financial Review. This Financial Review forms part of the Strategic Report of the Group.

 

New Accounting Standards

There have been a number of new UK IFRS accounting standards applicable from 1 January 2020, none of which have resulted in adjustment to the way in with the Group accounts or presents its financial information. 

 

Revenue

In 2020 Anexo successfully increased revenues across both its divisions, Credit Hire and Legal Services, resulting in Group revenues of £86.8 million, representing an 10.5% increase over the prior year (2019: £78.5 million). This growth is particularly pleasing given the fact that we have all been operating under restrictions imposed by the Government to limit the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During 2020 EDGE, the Credit Hire division, provided vehicles to 7,230 individuals (2019: 7,182) a slight increase on that seen in the prior year. This constitutes a strong performance given the restriction imposed during the year.  As part of our continued investment in the motorcycle community, our sponsorship of the McAMS Yamaha team in the British Superbike Championship continued into 2020. The season was curtailed but our engagement with the team was buoyed with an outstanding second place for Jason O’Halloran in the Championship. Our strategy remains, as previously reported, to focus investment within the McAMS business. This reflects the fact that, on average, a motorcycle claim has a similar value to that of a car with a take-on cost significantly less, allowing the Group to deploy its resources into the most valuable claims, thereby growing revenues whilst preserving working capital.

Whilst the number of claims rose only slightly in 2020, the strategy of deploying capital into the most valuable claims to the Group resulted in revenues for the Credit Hire division increasing to £51.6 million in 2020, an increase of 7.5% over 2019 (£48.0 million).

As a result of spending the majority of 2020 operating within the ongoing COVID restrictions, we have again been focused on cash collections and maintaining headroom within our working capital facilities, whilst maintaining investment for growth in 2021. Given our conservative income recognition policies, investment within the Legal Services division in senior staff and property has had a significant impact on the financial performance of the division.  Revenue growth within the Legal Services division in 2020 reached 15.2%, with revenues rising from £30.5 million in 2019 to £35.2 million.

Expansion of headcount in Bond Turner has been critical to increasing both revenues and cash settlements within the Group and the continued growth of the Bolton office, supported by expansion into Leeds, has provided a crucial platform for growth in both factors. During 2020, the Group continued its recruitment campaign, seeing some high-quality staff in the market as a result of competitor firms either entering a run-off plan or simply furloughing staff to remain viable. We have taken advantage of these opportunities, taking the decision to continue to recruit throughout the year, thereby investing in the future settlement capacity of the Group and consequently driving cash collections and the number of new cases we can fund without the need for additional working capital facilities. By the end of December 2020, we employed 518 staff in Bond Turner (December 2019: 442), of which 145 (December 2019: 127) were senior fee earners, an increase of 14.2%. With the signing of the lease for the Leeds office, recruitment and associated training has commenced and as at 14 April 2021 we had secured 14 staff, of which 9 are senior fee earners. Recruitment is scheduled to continue throughout 2021 across all of our three office locations. 

 

Gross Profits

Gross profits are reported at £68.0 million (at a margin of 78.3%) in 2020, increasing from £62.8 million in 2019 (at a margin of 80.4%). It should be noted, furthermore, that staffing costs within Bond Turner are reported within Administrative Expenses. Consequently, gross profit within Bond Turner is in effect being reported at 100%.

Gross profits for the Credit Hire division reached £33.5 million in 2020 (at a margin of 64.9%) falling from £34.3 million in 2019 (at a margin of 71.4%). The reduction reflects both our strategy for claims acceptance which seeks to maximise value from our available working capital facilities, as well as certain additional costs which were incurred as COVID impacted utilisation within the fleet.

 

Operating Costs

Administrative expenses before exceptional items increased year-on-year, reaching £42.6 million in 2020 (2019: £31.0 million), an increase of £11.6 million (37.4%). This reflects the continued investment in staffing costs within Bond Turner to drive settlement of cases and cash collections. Staffing costs for Bond Turner increased to £16.6 million (2019: £13.5 million), an increase of £3.2 million (23.5%). Investment in the VW Emissions class action (£2.9 million) has been expensed against Group profits in the year (2019: £0.9 million), much of this expenditure being marketing costs. The balance of the increase reflects the investment in marketing, staff and infrastructure to allow the Group to meet its growth aspirations, as well as its requirements and responsibilities as a PLC.

 

EBITDA

Adjusted EBITDA reached £25.4million in 2020, reduced from £31.8million in 2019 (20.0%). To provide a better guide to underlying business performance, adjusted EBITDA excludes share-based payments charged to profit and loss along with depreciation, amortisation, interest and tax from the measure of profit.

The GAAP measure of the profit before interest and tax was £18.1 million (2019: £24.6 million) reflecting the non-cash share-based payment charge of £0.7 million (2019: £0.7 million). Where we have provided adjusted figures, they are after the add-back of this item and a reconciliation of the underlying and reported results is included on page 16 of the Annual Report.

 

EPS and Dividend

Statutory basic EPS is 10.8 pence (2019: 16.4 pence). Statutory diluted EPS is 10.6 pence (2019: 16.0 pence). The adjusted EPS is 11.4 pence (2019: 17.0 pence). The adjusted diluted EPS is 11.2 pence (2019: 16.6 pence). The adjusted figures exclude the effect of share-based payments. The detailed calculation in support of the EPS data provided above is included within Note 4.

A final dividend of 1 penny per share has been recommended by the Board (2019: 0.5 pence) giving a total dividend for 2020 of 1.5 pence, having paid a dividend of 0.5 pence on 23 September 2020. This dividend, if approved at the Annual General Meeting to be held on 16 June 2021, will be paid on 20 July 2021 to those shareholders on the Register at the close of business on 25 June 2021.

 

Group Statement of Financial Position

The Group’s net assets position is dominated by the balances held within trade and other receivables. These balances include credit hire and credit repair debtors, together with disbursements paid in advance which support the portfolio of ongoing claims. The gross value of the receivables totalled £262.6 million in 2020, rising from £220.5 million in 2019. In accordance with our income recognition policies, provision is made to reduce the carrying value to recoverable amounts reflecting an initial settlement adjustment, being £126.4 million and £100.8 million respectively, an increase of 25.4%. This increase reflects the recent trading activity and strategy of the Group and is in line with management expectations given that throughout the majority of 2020 the legal services teams have been operating within COVID-19 restrictions and there have been periods when capacity within the court system has been significantly hampered. The increase has been primarily funded from the significant increase in cash collections seen year on year.

In addition, the Group has a total of £27.1 million reported as accrued income (2019: £24.4 million) which represents the value attributed to those ongoing hires and claims.

Whilst activity levels have risen and fallen in line with the local and national lockdowns, impacting the number of vehicles on the road and hence opportunities for new claims for the Group, further investment has been required and made in 2020 into the motorcycle fleet so as to meet the demand from our significant pool of introducers. Total fixed asset additions totalled £11.2 million in 2020 (2019: £15.1 million); the fleet continues to be largely leased.

Trade and other payables, including tax and social security increased to £9.5 million compared to £7.9 million at 31 December 2019, an increase of 20.0%, reflecting the timing of certain payments to HMRC in line with the provisions associated with COVID-19.

Net assets at 31 December 2020 reached £110.4 million (2019: £91.7 million).

 

Cash Flow

During 2018, the Group utilised the funds raised from the AIM listing, alongside increases in debt facilities, to take advantage of the opportunities in the market and increase the number of vehicles on the road. 2019 saw a shift in focus to cash generation, as the Group held back on growth within the Credit Hire division and focussed investment on the Legal Services division where we saw a significant investment in the number of senior staff engaged to settle cases and recover cash for the Group. This trend continued into 2020, notwithstanding the impact of COVID-19 on the Business (further details provided earlier). The number of senior fee earners increased from 127 to 145 during 2020 (an increase of 14.2%) and continues to rise across each of our offices, the third of which opened in Leeds in February 2021. The Group’s success in recruiting high quality staff continues, particularly while other firms are seen to be reducing headcount and utilising the Government’s Furlough Scheme. Recruitment has continued throughout 2020 and into 2021, thereby investing in case settlement for the future.

Cash collections for the Group (and excluding settlements for our clients), a key metric for the Group, increased from £84.1 million in 2019 to £98.0 million in 2020, an increase of 16.4%. This is a significant improvement, given the fact that many of the new recruits will not reach settlement maturity until late 2021/early 2022. Furthermore, with settlements impacted by the capacity within the court system arising from the impact of COVID, this growth is testament to the quality of staff within the Group.

Having strategically managed vehicle numbers during 2019 so as to preserve working capital, and with the focus being on securing the most attractive and profitable claims for the Group whilst minimising take-on costs, the number of vehicles on the road fell during 2019 from 1,531 to 1,308. During 2020, we have seen a number of competitors furlough staff and withdraw from the market leading to increases in market opportunities; we have sought to take advantage of this and increase market share. Despite the noticeable decline in road traffic, with the overall number of vehicles on the road visibly lower than in a typical year and many people working from home, we have actually seen the average number of vehicles on the road rise in 2020, reaching 1,515 (2019: 1,454). This contributed to the strong revenue performance of the Credit Hire division. This growth correspondingly impacted cash flows in the second half of the year. As we came out of the national lockdown in the summer of 2020, vehicles numbers on the road peaked in excess of 1,900, before dropping back to 1,613 at the end of the year as further restrictions were imposed at a regional and subsequently a national level.

Whilst conscious of investing for the future in 2020, the requirement to monitor our cash position and the headroom within our working capital facilities meant that focus remained on driving settlements and cash collections. This balance assures that growth within the core business is not at such a level as to impact headroom significantly. Moreover, investment in the generation of claims within the VW Emissions class action case has been made in the context of the specific facility drawn down during the year (contributing funds of £2.1 million) alongside the overall capacity within our facilities.

The Group reported a further improvement in the conversion of profits to cash flows from operating activities, reducing a cash outflow of £0.8 million in 2019 to a cash inflow of £0.2 million in 2020. This position was reached after investment in the VW Emissions case of £2.9 million (2019: £0.9 million). Excluding this expenditure, the Group’s core business generated a net cash inflow from operations of £3.1 million in 2020 (2019: £0.1 million). Notwithstanding a decline in case settlements as a result of COVID-19, we have continued to invest in new cases and increase market share across both the Credit Hire and Legal Services divisions. This investment absorbed a net £20.7 million of funds in 2020 (2019: £26.3 million); however, this year on year increase has been countered by the increased level of cash collections.

With a net cash inflow of £4.9 million resulting from financing activities, reflecting the fund raise in May-20 where £6.9 million was raised after expenses, (2019: net cash outflow of £1.8 million), the Group reported a net cash inflow in 2020 of £6.0 million (2019: net cash outflow of £3.3 million). This constitutes a significant improvement on that seen in 2019, particularly given the challenging operating circumstances in 2020.

 

Net Debt, Cash and Financing

Cash balances improved during 2020 and at 31 December 2020 reached £8.2 million (2019: £2.3 million). This figure reflects the funds raised from the placing in May-20 (£6.9 million after expenses) as well as the improvement in cash collections year on year. These increased by £13.8 million (16.4%) although they were countered by the continued investment into the Group case portfolio and settlement capacity.

Borrowings increased during the year to fund the additional working capital investment in the Group’s portfolio of claims and support the investment by the Group in the VW emissions claim and expansion of the vehicle fleet. The total balance rose from £38.5 million in 2019 to £48.7 million at the end of 2020. The Group has a number of funding relationships and facilities to support its working capital and investment requirements, including an invoice discounting facility within Direct Accident Management Limited (secured on the credit hire and repair receivables), lease facilities to support the acquisition of the fleet and a revolving credit facility within Bond Turner Limited.

In addition, during 2020 the Group secured £2.1 million of additional funding from a litigation funder to support the Group’s own investment into the VW emissions litigation as well as an additional £5.0 million of funding from Secure Trust Bank Plc under the government backed CLBILS scheme to further enhance headroom.

Having weathered what is hoped to be the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic the Group now has a significant increase in the availability of capital to deploy and drive growth across both the core business and other niche opportunities that may arise.

Having considered the Group’s current trading performance, cash flows and headroom within our current debt facilities and the maturity of those facilities, the Directors have concluded that it is appropriate to prepare the Group and the Company’s financial statements on a going concern basis.

 

Reconciliation of Underlying and Reported IFRS Results

In establishing the underlying operating profit, the costs adjusted include £0.7 million of costs related to share-based payments (2019: £0.7 million).

A reconciliation between underlying and reported results is provided below:

 Year to December 2020
  
Underlying
£’000s
 
Share-based
payment
£’000s

Reported
£’000s
Revenue 86,752 - 86,752
Gross profit 67,952 - 67,952
Other operating costs (net) (49,244) (658) (49,902)
Operating profit 18,708 (658) 18,050
Finance costs (net) (2,562) - (2,562)
Profit before tax 16,146 (658) 15,488
Depreciation & Amortisation 6,663 - 6,663
    
  
 Year to December 2019
  
Underlying
£’000s
 
Share-based
payment
£’000s

Reported
£’000s
Revenue 78,510 - 78,510
Gross profit 62,807 - 62,807
Other operating costs (net) (37,557) (657) (38,214)
Operating profit 25,250 (657) 24,593
Finance costs (net) (2,202) - (2,202)
Profit before tax 23,048 (657) 22,391
Depreciation & Amortisation 6,582 - 6,582
    

 

By order of the board

 

Mark Bringloe

Chief Financial Officer

27th April 2021

Consolidated Statement of Total Comprehensive Income
for year ended 31 December 2020

   2020  Restated
2019
 Note    £’000s   £’000s
     
Revenue386,752 78,510
Cost of sales (18,800) (15,703)
Gross profit 67,952 62,807
     
Depreciation & profit / loss on disposal (6,571) (6,547)
Amortisation (92) (35)
Administrative expenses before share based payments (42,581) (30,975)
Operating profit before share based payments418,708 25,250
     
Share based payment charge (658) (657)
Operating profit418,050 24,593
     
Net financing expense (2,562) (2,202)
     
Profit before tax 15,488 22,391
Taxation (3,173) (4,403)
Profit and total comprehensive income for the year attributable to the owners of the company 12,315 17,988
     
Earnings per share    
Basic earnings per share (pence)510.8 16.4
     
Diluted earnings per share (pence)510.6 16.0

The above results were derived from continuing operations.

 

Consolidated Statement of Financial Position
as at 31 December 2020

  2020 Restated
2019
Assets  Note  £’000s   £’000s
Non-current assets    
Property, plant and equipment62,187 1,637
Right of use assets613,081 9,857
Intangible assets6234 175
Deferred tax assets 112 112
  15,614 11,781
Current assets    
Trade and other receivables8147,931 127,656
Corporation tax receivable 439 -
Cash and cash equivalents 8,220 2,270
  156,590 129,926
     
Total assets 172,204 141,707
     
Equity and liabilities    
Equity      
Share capital 58 55
Share premium 16,161 9,235
Share based payments reserve 1,699 1,041
Retained earnings 92,520 81,365
Equity attributable to the owners of the Company 110,438 91,696
     
Non-current liabilities    
Other interest-bearing loans and borrowings93,681 -
Lease liabilities98,945 5,422
Deferred tax liabilities 32 32
  12,658 5,454
     
Current liabilities    
Other interest-bearing loans and borrowings931,294 28,167
Lease liabilities94,753 4,885
Trade and other payables 9,505 7,915
Corporation tax liability 3,556 3,590
  49,108 44,557
     
Total liabilities 61,766 50,011
     
Total equity and liabilities 172,204 141,707

The financial statements were approved by the Board of Directors and authorised for issue on 27 April 2021. They were signed on its behalf by:

Mark Bringloe

Chief Financial Officer

27th April 2021

 

Consolidated Statement of Changes in Equity
for the year ended 31 December 2020

 Share   Capital 

 

Share Premium
 

 

Merger Reserve
Share Based Payments ReserveRetained EarningsTotal
 £’000s£’000s£’000s£’000s£’000s£’000s
  

 

 

 

  
At 1 January 2019559,235-38466,12775,801
Profit for the year and total comprehensive income----17,98817,988
Issue of share capital------
Increase in share premium------
Share based payment charge---657-657
Dividends----(2,750)(2,750)
       
At 31 December 2019559,235-1,04181,36591,696

 

Profit for the year and total comprehensive income----12,31512,315
Issue of share capital3----3
Increase in share premium-6,926---6,926
Share based payment charge---658-658
Dividends----(1,160)(1,160)
       
At 31 December 20205816,161-1,69992,520110,438

 

Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows
for the year ended 31 December 2020

  2020 Restated
2019
 Note  £’000s   £’000s
Cash flows from operating activities    
Profit for the year 12,315 17,988
Adjustments for:    
Depreciation and profit / loss on disposal66,571 6,547
Amortisation 92 35
Financial expense 2,562 2,202
Share based payment charge 658 657
Taxation 3,173 4,403
  25,371 31,832
Working capital adjustments    
Increase in trade and other receivables (20,686) (26,294)
Increase in trade and other payables 1,588 694
Cash generated from operations 6,273 6,232
     
Interest paid (2,422) (1,797)
Tax paid (3,646) (5,230)
Net cash from operating activities 205 (795)
     
Cash flows from investing activities    
Proceeds from sale of property, plant and equipment

 

853 374
Acquisition of property, plant and equipment (223) (802)
Investment in intangible fixed assets

 

(150) (210)
Receipt of directors loan receivable

 

415  
Net cash from investing activities 895 (638)
     
Cash flows from financing activities    
Net proceeds from the issue of share capital

 

6,929 -
Proceeds from new loans  12,924 18,355
Repayment of borrowings (6,257) (10,920)
Lease payments  (7,586) (6,514)
Dividends paid (1,160) (2,750)
Net cash from financing activities 4,850 (1,829)
     
Net increase/(decrease) in cash and cash equivalents

 

5,950 (3,262)
Cash and cash equivalents at 1 January 2,270 5,532
     
Cash and cash equivalents at 31 December 8,220 2,270

 

 

 

Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statement
for the year ended 31 December 2020

The notes are available in the printable pdf of the results. To download it, please click here

 

Page last updated: 27 April 2021