Online car retailer MeinAuto off to strong start to 2021

BERLIN, March 30 (Reuters) - German online car dealer MeinAuto is off to a strong start to 2021, CEO Rudolf Rizzolli told Reuters on Tuesday, after reporting a 25% increase in profits last year as the coronavirus pandemic accelerated a shift in consumer habits.

Subscription-based orders at MeinAuto more than doubled in January and February, Rizzolli said in an interview, after MeinAuto reported an 11% rise in annual revenue to 212 million euros ($249 million) and core profit of 38 million euros.

MeinAuto, which specialises in new car sales and subscriptions, is tapping in to a growing trend for drivers to get a new set of wheels without visiting a dealer or taking a test driver.

Its subscriber base - typically making monthly payments with a service package thrown in - grew 40% last year to 44,000. When deals expire, the user either returns the car, buys it or signs up for a follow-on deal.

“Digital disruption is happening,” Rizzolli said.

Rizzolli said MeinAuto aimed to build its lead in online car sales this year. Online car sales currently make up 2% of the overall German market worth an annual 70 billion euros.

MeinAuto is gearing for a stock market listing that could value it at 2 billion euros, sources familiar with the matter say, amid strong investor demand.

Used-car platform AUTO1 commands a valuation of 10 billion euros after floating in Frankfurt while Britain’s Cazoo plans to go public in New York through a merger with a blank-cheque acquisition company. ($1 = 0.8522 euros) (Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Bernadette Baum)