Report on the audit of the financial statements

Opinion

In our opinion, Northgate plc's group financial statements and company financial statements (the "financial statements"):

  • give a true and fair view of the state of the group's and of the company's affairs as at 30 April 2018 and of the group's profit and the group's and the company's cash flows for the year then ended;
  • have been properly prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) as adopted by the European Union and, as regards the company's financial statements, as applied in accordance with the provisions of the Companies Act 2006; and
  • have been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Companies Act 2006 and, as regards the group financial statements, Article 4 of the IAS Regulation.

We have audited the financial statements, included within the Annual Report and Accounts (the "Annual Report"), which comprise: the group and company balance sheets as at 30 April 2018; the consolidated income statement and the group and company statements of comprehensive income, the group and company cash flow statements, the group and company notes to the cash flow statements, and the group and company statements of changes in equity for the year then ended; and the notes to the accounts, which include a description of the significant accounting policies.

Our opinion is consistent with our reporting to the Audit Committee.

Basis for opinion

We conducted our audit in accordance with International Standards on Auditing (UK) ("ISAs (UK)") and applicable law. Our responsibilities under ISAs (UK) are further described in the Auditors' responsibilities for the audit of the financial statements section of our report. We believe that the audit evidence we have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for our opinion.

Independence

We remained independent of the group in accordance with the ethical requirements that are relevant to our audit of the financial statements in the UK, which includes the FRC's Ethical Standard, as applicable to listed public interest entities, and we have fulfilled our other ethical responsibilities in accordance with these requirements.

To the best of our knowledge and belief, we declare that non-audit services prohibited by the FRC's Ethical Standard were not provided to the group or the company.

Other than those disclosed in note 5 to the financial statements, we have provided no non-audit services to the group or the company in the period from 1 May 2017 to 30 April 2018.

Our audit approach

Overview

Audit Approach

 

  • Overall group materiality: £2.6m (2017: £3.6m), based on 5% of profit before tax.
  • Overall company materiality: £2.5m (2017: £3.0m), based on 1% of total assets, limited to less than group materiality.

  • In aggregate, full scope audits of the UK, Spain and Ireland components provided us with the evidence required to form an opinion on the financial statements. Collectively the scope of our work covered 99% of revenue, 96% of total assets and 98% of profit before tax.

  • Determining appropriate depreciation rates for vehicles available for hire.
  • Provisions for uncertain tax positions.

The scope of our audit

As part of designing our audit, we determined materiality and assessed the risks of material misstatement in the financial statements. In particular, we looked at where the directors made subjective judgements, for example in respect of significant accounting estimates that involved making assumptions and considering future events that are inherently uncertain.

We gained an understanding of the legal and regulatory framework applicable to the group and the industry in which it operates, and considered the risk of acts by the group which were contrary to applicable laws and regulations, including fraud. We designed audit procedures at group and significant component level to respond to the risk, recognising that the risk of not detecting a material misstatement due to fraud is higher than the risk of not detecting one resulting from error, as fraud may involve deliberate concealment by, for example, forgery or intentional misrepresentations, or through collusion. We focused on laws and regulations that could give rise to a material misstatement in the group and company financial statements, including, but not limited to, the Companies Act 2006, the Listing Rules, UK tax legislation and equivalent laws and regulations applicable to significant component teams. Our tests included, but were not limited to, the review of financial statement disclosures to underlying supporting documentation, review of correspondence with legal advisors, enquiries of management, review of significant component auditors' work and review of internal audit reports in so far as they related to the financial statements. There are inherent limitations in the audit procedures described above and the further removed non-compliance with laws and regulations is from the events and transactions reflected in the financial statements, the less likely we would become aware of it.

We did not identify any key audit matters relating to irregularities, including fraud. As in all of our audits we also addressed the risk of management override of internal controls, including testing journals and evaluating whether there was evidence of bias by the directors that represented a risk of material misstatement due to fraud.

Key audit matters

Key audit matters are those matters that, in the auditors' professional judgement, were of most significance in the audit of the financial statements of the current period and include the most significant assessed risks of material misstatement (whether or not due to fraud) identified by the auditors, including those which had the greatest effect on: the overall audit strategy; the allocation of resources in the audit; and directing the efforts of the engagement team. These matters, and any comments we make on the results of our procedures thereon, were addressed in the context of our audit of the financial statements as a whole, and in forming our opinion thereon, and we do not provide a separate opinion on these matters. This is not a complete list of all risks identified by our audit.

Key audit matterHow our audit addressed the key audit matter

Determining appropriate depreciation rates for vehicles available for hire (Group)
The net book value of vehicle assets for hire at 30 April 2018 is £897.3m (2017: £731.7m) with a depreciation charge for the year of £176.6m (2017: £149.7m), being the largest expense for the group. The group adopts an accounting policy that uses depreciation rates and estimated useful lives to ensure that the net book value of these vehicle assets approximates to their market value at the time of disposal. This policy seeks to minimise any significant gains or losses upon disposal of the vehicle assets.

This policy requires management to make an estimate of what the residual value and sale proceeds will be at the time of disposal. Determining likely sales proceeds for future vehicle disposals is judgemental and requires a number of judgments and estimates to be made, including the age, condition and mileage of each vehicle, the method of selling a vehicle and expected future market conditions, such as forecast levels of supply and demand. The complexity of these judgments makes this area a key audit matter for our audit.

Further explanation is included in the group's critical accounting judgements and key sources of estimation uncertainty in note 3 and the Audit Committee report.

We examined management's assumptions of expected future market values of hire vehicles used in the calculation by comparison to external third party industry data for expected future market prices.

We performed detailed testing of the calculations supporting the estimates and judgements taken by management, including comparison to recent actual market prices achieved on disposal of similar vehicles.

We recalculated the impact on disposal profits of a reasonable change in the estimated useful life of the vehicle fleet.

Based on the procedures we have performed above, we were able to obtain sufficient audit evidence in respect of the judgements and estimates applied by management in determining the depreciation rates used.

Provisions for uncertain tax positions (Group)
The group carries out tax planning and has made judgements in respect of tax relief and deductions that have been taken in preparation of its tax computations. In preparation of the financial statements management have made further judgements in respect of the likelihood of future challenge by tax authorities.

We focused on this area due to the judgement required in assessing the need for provisions to cover the risk of challenge of certain of the group's tax positions, which have been taken as current tax deductions in the current and previous years. This requires significant audit attention as there is judgement involved in assessing those uncertain tax positions that require provision or not and the related tax items are significant.

Uncertain tax provisions at the year-end totalled £17.1m (2017: £14.3m).

We tested the actual deductions taken by the company to examine that they exist and were a valid exposure for management to apply judgement against with respect to challenge.

We evaluated and challenged management's rationale for the level of provisions held, including assessing the judgements that management have taken and validating to corroborating evidence.

We considered the status of recent and current tax audits and enquiries, inspected correspondence with relevant tax authorities, the outturn of previous claims and the tax environment in each territory. We also considered any penalty regimes that could apply should any of the group's tax positions be challenged successfully.

We used a tax specialist to assist us in assessing the appropriateness of the provisions in light of the current tax environment.

Based on the procedures we performed above the provisions for uncertain tax positions were supported by the evidence we obtained during our audit.

We determined that there were no key audit matters applicable to the company to communicate in our report.

How we tailored the audit scope

We tailored the scope of our audit to ensure that we performed enough work to be able to give an opinion on the financial statements as a whole, taking into account the structure of the group and the company, the accounting processes and controls, and the industry in which they operate.

Northgate plc has two principal trading components in the UK and Spain, a smaller trading component in Ireland and a non-trading component in Malta, overseen by a group function in the UK.

The subsidiary businesses in the UK and Spain were financially significant components for the group audit, and full scope audits were performed. Whilst Ireland was not a financially significant component the statutory audit was completed at the time of the group audit.

We performed the audit of Northgate's UK and Ireland businesses and received an audit opinion from the PwC member firm in Spain on Northgate Spain.

We ensured that appropriate further audit work was undertaken for Northgate plc as the parent company. This included audit work on, for example, centrally held tax provisions, accounting for financial hedging instruments, the consolidation of the group's results, the preparation of the financial statements, assessing the appropriate classification of exceptional items and work on certain disclosures within the Directors' remuneration report.

We were in active dialogue throughout the year with the team responsible for the audit of Northgate Spain; this included consideration of how they planned and performed their work, visiting the business once during the year and attending the audit closing meeting, which was also attended by the Northgate Spain Finance Director.

Materiality

The scope of our audit was influenced by our application of materiality. We set certain quantitative thresholds for materiality. These, together with qualitative considerations, helped us to determine the scope of our audit and the nature, timing and extent of our audit procedures on the individual financial statement line items and disclosures and in evaluating the effect of misstatements, both individually and in aggregate on the financial statements as a whole.

Based on our professional judgement, we determined materiality for the financial statements as a whole as follows:

Group financial statementsCompany financial statements
Overall materiality>£2.6m (2017: £3.6m).£2.5m (2017: £3.0m).
How we determined it5% of profit before tax.1% of total assets, lmited to less than group materiality.
Rationale for benchmark appliedWe believe a standard benchmark of 5% of profit before tax is an appropriate quantitative indicator of materiality, although of course an item could also be material for qualitative reasons. We selected profit before tax as it is a primary indicator of performance of the group and is a generally accepted auditing benchmark.We believe a standard benchmark of 1% of total assets is an appropriate quantitative indicator of materiality due to the company being a holding company.

For each component in the scope of our group audit, we allocated a materiality that is less than our overall group materiality. The range of materiality allocated across components was £0.2m and £2.5m. Certain components were audited to a local statutory audit materiality that was also less than our overall group materiality.

We agreed with the Audit Committee that we would report to them misstatements identified during our audit above £130,000 (Group audit) (2017: £150,000) and £125,000 (Company audit) (2017: £150,000) as well as misstatements below those amounts that, in our view, warranted reporting for qualitative reasons.

Going concern

In accordance with ISAs (UK) we report as follows:

Reporting obligationOutcome
We are required to report if we have anything material to add or draw attention to in respect of the directors' statement in the financial statements about whether the directors considered it appropriate to adopt the going concern basis of accounting in preparing the financial statements and the directors' identification of any material uncertainties to the group's and the company's ability to continue as a going concern over a period of at least twelve months from the date of approval of the financial statements.We have nothing material to add or to draw attention to. However, because not all future events or conditions can be predicted, this statement is not a guarantee as to the group's and company's ability to continue as a going concern.
We are required to report if the directors' statement relating to Going Concern in accordance with Listing Rule 9.8.6R(3) is materially inconsistent with our knowledge obtained in the audit.We have nothing to report.

Reporting on other information

The other information comprises all of the information in the Annual Report other than the financial statements and our auditors' report thereon. The directors are responsible for the other information. Our opinion on the financial statements does not cover the other information and, accordingly, we do not express an audit opinion or, except to the extent otherwise explicitly stated in this report, any form of assurance thereon.

In connection with our audit of the financial statements, our responsibility is to read the other information and, in doing so, consider whether the other information is materially inconsistent with the financial statements or our knowledge obtained in the audit, or otherwise appears to be materially misstated. If we identify an apparent material inconsistency or material misstatement, we are required to perform procedures to conclude whether there is a material misstatement of the financial statements or a material misstatement of the other information. If, based on the work we have performed, we conclude that there is a material misstatement of this other information, we are required to report that fact. We have nothing to report based on these responsibilities.

With respect to the Strategic Report and Report of the Directors, we also considered whether the disclosures required by the UK Companies Act 2006 have been included.

Based on the responsibilities described above and our work undertaken in the course of the audit, the Companies Act 2006 (CA06), ISAs (UK) and the Listing Rules of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) require us also to report certain opinions and matters as described below (required by ISAs (UK) unless otherwise stated).

Strategic Report and Report of the Directors
In our opinion, based on the work undertaken in the course of the audit, the information given in the Strategic Report and Report of the Directors for the year ended 30 April 2018 is consistent with the financial statements and has been prepared in accordance with applicable legal requirements. (CA06)

In light of the knowledge and understanding of the group and company and their environment obtained in the course of the audit, we did not identify any material misstatements in the Strategic Report and Report of the Directors. (CA06)

The directors' assessment of the prospects of the group and of the principal risks that would threaten the solvency or liquidity of the group
We have nothing material to add or draw attention to regarding:

  • The directors' confirmation on page 35 of the Annual Report that they have carried out a robust assessment of the principal risks facing the group, including those that would threaten its business model, future performance, solvency or liquidity.
  • The disclosures in the Annual Report that describe those risks and explain how they are being managed or mitigated.
  • The directors' explanation on page 40 of the Annual Report as to how they have assessed the prospects of the group, over what period they have done so and why they consider that period to be appropriate, and their statement as to whether they have a reasonable expectation that the group will be able to continue in operation and meet its liabilities as they fall due over the period of their assessment, including any related disclosures drawing attention to any necessary qualifications or assumptions.
We have nothing to report having performed a review of the directors' statement that they have carried out a robust assessment of the principal risks facing the group and statement in relation to the longer-term viability of the group. Our review was substantially less in scope than an audit and only consisted of making inquiries and considering the directors' process supporting their statements; checking that the statements are in alignment with the relevant provisions of the UK Corporate Governance Code (the "Code"); and considering whether the statements are consistent with the knowledge and understanding of the group and company and their environment obtained in the course of the audit. (Listing Rules)

Other Code Provisions
We have nothing to report in respect of our responsibility to report when:

  • The statement given by the directors, that they consider the Annual Report taken as a whole to be fair, balanced and understandable, and provides the information necessary for the members to assess the group's and company's position and performance, business model and strategy is materially inconsistent with our knowledge of the group and company obtained in the course of performing our audit.
  • The section of the Annual Report describing the work of the Audit Committee does not appropriately address matters communicated by us to the Audit Committee.
  • The directors' statement relating to the company's compliance with the Code does not properly disclose a departure from a relevant provision of the Code specified, under the Listing Rules, for review by the auditors.

Directors' Remuneration
In our opinion, the part of the Directors' Remuneration Report to be audited has been properly prepared in accordance with the Companies Act 2006. (CA06)

Responsibilities for the financial statements and the audit

Responsibilities of the directors for the financial statements

As explained more fully in the Statement of Directors' Responsibilities set out on page 82, the directors are responsible for the preparation of the financial statements in accordance with the applicable framework and for being satisfied that they give a true and fair view. The directors are also responsible for such internal control as they determine is necessary to enable the preparation of financial statements that are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error.

In preparing the financial statements, the directors are responsible for assessing the group's and the company's ability to continue as a going concern, disclosing as applicable, matters related to going concern and using the going concern basis of accounting unless the directors either intend to liquidate the group or the company or to cease operations, or have no realistic alternative but to do so.

Auditors' responsibilities for the audit of the financial statements

Our objectives are to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements as a whole are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error, and to issue an auditors' report that includes our opinion. Reasonable assurance is a high level of assurance, but is not a guarantee that an audit conducted in accordance with ISAs (UK) will always detect a material misstatement when it exists. Misstatements can arise from fraud or error and are considered material if, individually or in the aggregate, they could reasonably be expected to influence the economic decisions of users taken on the basis of these financial statements.

A further description of our responsibilities for the audit of the financial statements is located on the FRC's website at: www.frc.org.uk/auditorsresponsibilities. This description forms part of our auditors' report.

Use of this report

This report, including the opinions, has been prepared for and only for the company's members as a body in accordance with Chapter 3 of Part 16 of the Companies Act 2006 and for no other purpose. We do not, in giving these opinions, accept or assume responsibility for any other purpose or to any other person to whom this report is shown or into whose hands it may come save where expressly agreed by our prior consent in writing.

Other required reporting

Companies Act 2006 exception reporting

Under the Companies Act 2006 we are required to report to you if, in our opinion:

  • we have not received all the information and explanations we require for our audit; or
  • adequate accounting records have not been kept by the company, or returns adequate for our audit have not been received from branches not visited by us; or
  • certain disclosures of directors' remuneration specified by law are not made; or
  • the company financial statements and the part of the Directors' Remuneration Report to be audited are not in agreement with the accounting records and returns.

We have no exceptions to report arising from this responsibility.

Appointment

Following the recommendation of the audit committee, we were appointed by the members on 17 June 2015 to audit the financial statements for the year ended 30 April 2016 and subsequent financial periods. The period of total uninterrupted engagement is 3 years, covering the years ended 30 April 2016 to 30 April 2018.

Ian Morrison
Senior Statutory Auditor

for and on behalf of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Chartered Accountants and Statutory Auditors
Leeds
25 June 2018