Aston Martin Lagonda’s losses ballooned to £119m in the first three months of the year as the coronavirus pandemic caused the already struggling British carmaker’s sales to plunge across the world.
The company sold only 578 cars to dealers in the first quarter, down 45% from the same period in 2019.
Aston Martin’s shares hit a new record low on Wednesday morning of 32.5p, pushing its market value below £500m for the first time since floating in October 2018 at a value of more than £4bn.
Sales slumped by 86% in China. They decreased by 57% and 30% in the Americas and Europe respectively, despite lockdown restrictions not starting in earnest until mid-March.
“We are planning on the assumption that trading remains challenging,” said Vikram Bhatia, Aston Martin’s interim chief financial officer. The second quarter is expected to be worse, given the dramatic fall in car sales in its biggest markets during lockdown.
More than nine in 10 Aston Martin dealerships across the world have had to shut during the crisis, although all 18 dealers in China have reopened.
The company said it was examining different ways to increase its access to cash, such as asking for government support beyond the job retention scheme, and borrowing more money from banks. The UK government is paying 80% of the wages for the majority of Aston Martin’s staff under the furlough scheme.
“We are hoping to take advantage of any facilities the government is willing to offer as long as it suits us,” said Bhatia on a call to investors. “How long it will take I don’t know. The wheels of government move slowly.”
Aston Martin has said it is focusing on reducing the number of cars held by dealers, as well as delivering its new DBX, a £158,000 SUV whose success is crucial for the marque’s survival.
The company was the last of the large UK carmakers to pause production as the pandemic hit in March. It reopened its St Athan plant in south Wales on 5 May in order to ramp up to full DBX production in “the next few weeks”. Deliveries to pre-order customers are on track to start in the summer.
However, Aston Martin’s first-quarter figures revealed the strain the company was under before it agreed to the Stroll-led bailout, with net debt rising to almost £1bn – 16 times higher than a year’s adjusted operating earnings.