Capricorn forges ahead

05/11/2008 - 22:00

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FINANCIAL services may be a dirty word to most as the global turbulence slams this sector harder than most, but that hasn't stopped automotive parts group Capricorn Society Ltd from cranking up its own offering to the market.

Capricorn forges ahead

FINANCIAL services may be a dirty word to most as the global turbulence slams this sector harder than most, but that hasn't stopped automotive parts group Capricorn Society Ltd from cranking up its own offering to the market.

In its first year of trading as an unlisted public company, the former cooperative revealed its move into offering vehicle and equipment finance had been promising and it was looking at ways to expand its product range.

Capricorn also moved to bring its insurance business management in-house, creating a joint venture company which could extend its services to cooperative-type entities in different markets.

Capricorn has about 12,000 Australian, New Zealand and South African automotive businesses - a range including auto electricians, paint & panel shops mechanical workshops, auto transmission workshops and service stations - that bought $761.4 million in parts in the past financial year.

Many of these players expect to do better in a downturn when consumers traditionally opt to service old cars rather than buying new ones.

In its annual report for the year ending June 30, Capricorn revealed turnover had jumped 12 per cent from $678.4 million the previous year, providing a gross profit of $38.4 million and a net profit of $5 million.

Distributions to shareholders in the form of reward points, rebates and dividends amounted to $15.5 million.

CEO Trent Bartlett said the credit crunch had had a mixed impact on its move into financial services, creating uncertainty but also paving the way to help customers find finance when bank lending had tightened. Currently, Capricorn was finding customers the best deal, rather than being a fully fledged broker.

Mr Bartlett said the group was looking to develop these services and add products such as home loans this financial year, but only if the market conditions were appropriate.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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