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Eco City Vehicles Warns Of Hit From Intensifying Competition

06/03/2014

Wed, 5th Mar 2014 09:43

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LONDON (Alliance News) – Eco City Vehicles PLC, which supplies Mercedes Vito taxis in the UK, Wednesday said its chief executive has stepped down to pursue other interests as it warned that trading since the start of this year had got tougher due to increased competition in the London taxi market.

In a trading update, the company said revenues rose to GBP32.0 million in 2013, from GBP30.5 million in 2012, despite new Vito sales falling to 543, from 561. It said it expects earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be between GBP0.8 million and GBP1.0 million, compared with GBP0.8 million in 2012, while it will swing to a pretax pre-items profit of GBP0.25 million, from a GBP0.2 million loss.

However, it warned that trading conditions so far this year had become tougher as new entrants arrived in the London taxi market. It also blamed Transport for London for being ambiguous about the emissions standards for taxis that it will require from 2018.

"This quarter we are seeing a softening in sales of new Vito taxis and the board has taken a number steps to address this," Chairman John Swingewood said in a statement, without detailing the steps being taken.

He said Eco City intends to diversify into other taxi products and services in order to reduce its dependence on new London Vito taxi sales going forward, and is continuing to grow its own rental fleet. It also intends to make acquisitions to further diversify, Swingewood said.

The London taxi market is going through a big shakeup. After years of being dominated by the "Black Cab", now made by China’s Geely after the company that built it went bankrupt in 2012, the market is now seeing new entrants arrive, including the Mercedes car as well as Nissan, which unveiled its new taxi model in January.

In its statement, Eco City said CEO Trevor Parker had stepped down to pursue other interests, with Swingwood leading the search for a successor. The Chairman wished Parker well for the future and thanked him for his contribution.

Eco City Vehicles shares were down 16.1% at 1.3 pence Wednesday morning, one of the biggest declines on AIM.

By Steve McGrath; stevemcgrath@alliancenews.com; @SteveMcGrath1

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