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Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers Inc (RBA) Q1 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

By Motley Fool Transcribers - May 13, 2021 at 3:30PM

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RBA earnings call for the period ending March 31, 2021.

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Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers Inc (RBA -0.04%)
Q1 2021 Earnings Call
May 12, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning. My name is Mike and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers First Quarter Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Thank you.

I will now turn the call over to Mr. Sameer Rathod, Vice President of Investor Relations and Market Intelligence to open the conference call. Mr. Rathod, you may begin your conference.

Sameer Rathod -- Vice President, Investor Relations and Market Intelligence

Hello and good morning and thank you for joining us on today's call to discuss our first quarter 2021 results. Joining me today are Ann Fandozzi, our Chief Executive Officer and Sharon Driscoll, our Chief Financial Officer, along with other members of the management team who will be available for the Q&A portion of this call.

The following discussion will include forward-looking statements. Comments that are not a statement of fact, including projections of future earnings, revenue, gross transaction value and other items are considered forward-looking and involves risks and uncertainties. The risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual financial and operating results to differ significantly from our forward-looking statements are detailed in our SEC and Canadian securities filings available on our Investor Relations website at investor.ritchiebros.com. We encourage you to review our earnings release and Form 10-Q which are available on our website as well as EDGAR and SEDAR.

On this call, we will discuss certain non-GAAP financial measures. For the identification of non-GAAP financial measures, the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures and a reconciliation between the two, see our earnings release and Form 10-Q. Presentation slides accompany our commentary today. These slides can be viewed through the live or recorded webcast or downloaded from our website. All figures discussed today are in US dollars unless otherwise indicated.

I'll now turn the call over to Ann Fandozzi. Ann?

Ann Fandozzi -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Sameer, and good morning to everyone joining our call today. I would like to start the call by thanking and congratulating all our team members. It has been a difficult 12 months. And our team continues to focus on the needs of our customers with an unwavering commitment to health and safety.

We continue to see the environment as dynamic. And despite the continued uncertainty, our omnichannel platform continues to deliver strong outcomes for our customers and robust financial results for shareholders. GTV increased 11%, service revenue increased 13% and adjusted operating income increased 31%. These numbers underscore the leverage in our model and Sharon will walk you through the numbers shortly.

Let me talk a little bit about how the quarter progressed. When you last heard from us in February, we indicated we were seeing uncertainty in the environment. Our published results for our Orlando auction clearly showed consignors were taking a wait-and-see approach. In response to constrained supply, conventional wisdom would have been the save-cost and pullback on marketing. Instead, we doubled down on our commitment to drive the very best outcome for our customers and by increasing demand through higher levels of marketing spend.

For our buyers we continue to upgrade our digital experience and for our sellers we continue to improve our digital marketing techniques and bundled regional events to bolster demand and drive used equipment pricing. Our actions led to Orlando and Houston seeing strong improvements in pricing of used equipment compared to last year and we leverage this strong pricing as a rallying cry for our sales organization to help consignors gain confidence. We are very happy with the first quarter. However, I want to note that year-over-year comparisons will become less meaningful as we get later into this year as COVID heavily distorted our typical seasonality in 2020.

We continue to have an intense focus on the customer and fiercely drive all components within our control. So we are able to cope with external headwinds and manage the volatility while benefiting when the environment changes. Overall, the environment continues to be uneven with pockets of strength like residential, offset by pockets of weakness like non-residential construction and conditions are also varying significantly around the globe. This dynamic is causing lumpiness of supply and the second quarter is off to a slower start.

Some consignors are busy. Others are waiting to see what happens as they digest continuously changing macro developments, timing, size and scope of infrastructure stimulus, tax changes, vaccine distribution. We know there have been issues with equipment production given the supply chain as well while COVID rages on in certain parts of the world.

The customer remains the core to everything we do and we are executing in areas that are in our control. Our digital marketing team continues to deliver demand for our global buyer base with a 42% increase in bids per lot sold. We believe this demand generation is helping to drive increases of used equipment pricing. We also continue to drive strong operating leverage in the quarter with our COVID protocols very much in place.

Last quarter we talked about how we changed our organization to drive growth in execution at a global scale and this quarter we continue to follow through on that commitment. I am pleased to announce that Sam Wyant has accepted the position of International Strategic Account leadership to help bring the best practices he led in North America to our international markets.

After Sharon discusses our financials, I will talk about how we are executing against our strategic pillars and then we will do a Q&A. And now over to Sharon.

Sharon Driscoll -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Ann, and good morning everyone. Overall, we are pleased with our total GTV growth of 11% year-on-year or 8% year-on-year on a constant currency basis, led by geographic strength in Canada and international. All our channels contributed to growth, aided by strong used equipment prices for the quarter compared to last year.

I would like to add some color around our GTV growth. First, GTV sold in the US grew by only 2%. However, this growth was hampered by the lack of internationally sourced equipment at our Orlando auction this year. Last year, a meaningful part of our GTV in Orlando came from international consignors and that source of supply for 2021 was significantly reduced given continued COVID-driven challenges. Looking at GTV sourced only in the US, growth was in the high single digits. Additionally, I would note that GTV benefited approximately $8 million in the quarter when we met the auction shift compared to last year due to COVID related changes to our auction calendar combined with the headwinds of the non-repeat of our Las Vegas CONEXPO event and a collector car event. With these shifts, total number of auction sale days increased 7% to 93 days in the quarter compared to 87 days last year and total lots sold increased 15% year-on-year.

As Ann noted, as we go through 2021, the year-on-year comparisons are going to be difficult, given the impact of COVID on our auction calendar as well as international border restrictions that we experienced last year. We think that looking at GTV volume growth over Q1 2019 base is a good comparison to assist investors with the filtering out of COVID noise and provide a better sense of underlying trends. On that basis, our GTV grew 8.5%.

Total service revenue grew 13% year-on-year and using 2019 as the basis for comparison for the same reasons as previously stated, service revenue increased 19.5%. We continue to think that service revenue growth is the best indicator of overall top line performance for our business model and most reflective of underlying business trends in the quarter.

Our cautious tone going into the quarter was warranted given Orlando was tracking down $45 million or nearly 20% compared to its 2020 pre-COVID event results. And we saw some of the Texas auctions building slowly as we witnessed consignor hesitancy as they took a wait-and-see approach due to some of the aforementioned macro issues. The exceptionally strong price results at Orlando answered some of those concerns and contributed to the 15% increase in lot growth processed during the quarter.

As Ann noted, the environment continues to be dynamic and we continue to see lumpiness as our 2Q is off to a slow start in the US similar to what we experienced at the beginning of Q1. We saw an 8.4% reduction in cost of services due to our COVID protocols and our pivot to a 100% online bidding on sales days. It is important to note that as you think about the second quarter and the rest of the year, we will be cycling over our COVID protocols and would not expect further decline in cost of service year-on-year. These actions drove a strong operating leverage with a 31% increase in adjusted operating income and 19% increase in adjusted earnings per share. Note that our cost of services are flat compared to first quarter 2019 despite GTV being up 8.5% in the same time frame, underscoring the leverage in our model.

I also want to specifically discuss acquisition-related costs incurred in the quarter associated with the Rouse Services transaction. As part of the acquisition, the Company incurred $2.9 million of acquisition-related costs in the quarter, of which $2.5 million of those costs related to the amortization of share-based continuing employment costs. We continue to expect the amortization of share-based continuing employment costs will total approximately $10.3 million in 2021. These costs will not be adjusted out of our future earnings as they will be recurring charges, however will be visible on this acquisition-related cost line on the face of the statements.

Before I turn to Auctions and Marketplaces, I would note that our Other Services segment revenue increased 24% year-on-year due to the $5.6 million full-quarter contribution from Rouse Services and strong growth in Ritchie Bros. Financial Services, partially offset by lower ancillary and logistics revenue.

Now on to Auctions and Marketplaces. A&M service revenue grew 10% with A&M service revenue as a percent of total GTV coming in at a solid 13.4% for the quarter. It is important to note once again that contract mix can significantly skew total revenue growth depending on consignors' preference for how the deals are structured. We are agnostic between service and inventory oriented contracts and stand ready to serve our customers in any capacity they so choose. That said, inventory sales continued to be lumpy, increasing 39% driven by all regions. Our international region faced easier comps given the COVID-driven border closures last year while the US saw benefits from construction deals and non-rolling stock GovPlanet coming back online. Canada also saw benefits from two large construction deals.

Inventory rate increased 229 basis points to 12% compared to last year. Our disciplined approach to at-risk deals, particularly inventory contracts combined with very strong used equipment prices drove these results and we are very pleased with overall rate performance during the quarter. Overall, our SG&A increased 18% year-on-year, which does exceed our service revenue growth of 13% in the quarter. SG&A growth was impacted by significantly stronger performance-based incentive increases, severance, foreign exchange impacts, the addition of Rouse Services employees and executive management changes that begin to comp fully in Q2 of 2021.

Excluding the bonus, share-based compensation and severance impacts in the quarter, our SG&A grew only 4.4%. We think the 4.4% is a better basis of core SG&A growth because in 2020 the uncertainty of the moment required little to no incentive accrual versus our very strong performance results in our current quarter. Although our travel, advertising and promotion expense was down year-on-year, we anticipate these costs to start escalating from current levels, given the pace of vaccine deployment, particularly in the US. We are a sales-driven organization and our talented sales force is eager to get back on the road, developing and cultivating customer relationships as it is becoming safer to do so.

Our balance sheet and liquidity remain in a very strong position with our leverage decreasing to 1.0 times on an adjusted net debt to trailing four-quarter EBITDA basis. We had very strong cash flow in the quarter and I am pleased to note that operating free cash flow to net income came in at 213% on a trailing four-quarter basis, well ahead of our 100% evergreen target.

I would like to add my thanks to our dedicated employees for their continued focus on health and safety and continue to resolve to meet the needs of our customers. It has been an unprecedented 12 months with unique challenges, but I am very proud of the team.

With that let me turn the call back to Ann.

Ann Fandozzi -- Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Sharon. I'm very pleased with the progress we are making on our new strategy to become the trusted global marketplace for insights, services and transaction solutions for commercial assets. Let me run through the key developments by pillar in the last 90 days to help us drive long-term value creation.

Customer experience. As described last quarter, we now have a dedicated seller and buyer team who are responsible for delivering the best customer experience. The seller team made enhancements to our regional events to drive more demand while the buyer team continues to make strides digitally with virtual yard walks and enhanced videos of equipment to build buyer confidence.

Employee experience. We are engaging with our employees by asking them what is important to them for our ESG related social giving initiatives and we are in the process of crowdsourcing a list of those ideas. Modern architecture. In the quarter, we completed the roadmap for our modern architecture and successfully launched our cloud-based inspection micro service.

Inventory management system. We are taking our first step in creating an industrywide equipment win-like [Phonetic] system and enhancing our equipment valuation tools between Ritchie Brothers and Rouse Services.

Lastly, accelerating growth. We are seeing very positive signs with our satellite sites internationally with not only incremental GTV but new buyers and sellers. We are encouraged by the KPIs and are now rolling new sites into our third and fourth quarter plans. We are in the early stages of the new sales coverage model in Texas and now that we have a team in place, we are learning a lot about how it works and using these learnings to quickly refine our strategy. Lastly, as you heard me indicate earlier, we are rolling out strategic accounts globally.

Now turning to current trends and outlook. I would like to share some considerations for the remainder of 2021. Our priority remains unchanged. Number one, the health and safety of our employees while focusing on execution. Our execution priorities are growth in a constrained environment, continuing the execution of our strategic pillars, keeping tight controls on cost and focusing on our true north, improving our customers' experience.

We continue to see upside opportunities balanced by uncertainty and risks as well. We see some consignors beginning to focus on cash flow and inventory management to achieve their liquidity needs. In 2020, we did not see the level of distress supply we expected and think there is more to come here as banks begin to apply more pressure to the FERC or delinquent accounts. We are also watching for both timing and magnitude of government stimulus to begin driving infrastructure spend. We also see potential that consignors that are on the fence start to act in terms of equipment dispersals and fleet realignment due to the strong equipment pricing environment.

All that said, there remains risks as the implications of COVID continues to cloud the outlook. We have all heard from OEMs in terms of various supply chain issues inhibiting their ability to produce equipment currently or later this year. Although the US have made remarkable progress on the vaccine, global timetables for vaccine distribution continue to be murky and with newer strains of COVID, we think there is a risk of additional border restrictions.

Lastly, we continue to carefully monitor any potential changes in the sentiment, which could impact equipment events and soften the current pricing environment as we progress through the quarter. All in all, our tone and outlook remain cautiously optimistic.

With that, operator, please open the line for question.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your first question comes from Craig Kennison from Baird.

Craig Kennison -- Baird -- Analyst

Hey. Good morning. Thank you for taking my question. Really wanted to take a look at the second quarter and the balance of the year and get a sense for the number of auction sale days that you have in Q2 in particular, as we try to narrow down what the expectation should be for gross transaction value.

Sharon Driscoll -- Chief Financial Officer

So, Craig, hi. It's Sharon. I can take that question. I think our auction calendar is fairly fluid throughout the quarter. What I would project what we sort of see today is that it's probably in a similar range as what we experienced in Q1, albeit, I would point out that our current month, anybody that's scrapping [Phonetic] would certainly see a shift in the other direction as the COVID-related auction calendar shifts from last year's start to cycle over each other, so particularly LA and Montreal. But I would say -- use a similar kind of outlook as was used as we resulted in for Q1.

Craig Kennison -- Baird -- Analyst

That's helpful, Sharon. But just to be clear, similar in that you expect roughly 7% growth in the number of selling days or similar in terms of GTV? What's the metric you're anchoring on?

Sharon Driscoll -- Chief Financial Officer

The number of days.

Craig Kennison -- Baird -- Analyst

Not the growth in the number, but the actual number?

Sharon Driscoll -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, the actual number of days.

Craig Kennison -- Baird -- Analyst

And I'm sorry to press, but what is -- how does that compare versus last year?

Sharon Driscoll -- Chief Financial Officer

Sameer, guide me if we've given that information out or if it's available on the website, you could certainly see it in terms of calendar days that we have presented on the website.

Craig Kennison -- Baird -- Analyst

Okay. Will take a look at that. Thank you so much. I'll get back in the queue.

Operator

Your next question comes from Michael Doumet from Scotiabank.

Michael Doumet -- Scotiabank -- Analyst

Hey. Good morning, Ann and Sharon. We're obviously reading a lot about the tight heavy equipment inventories in the US. Feels similar to 2017. Obviously, a lot of differences as well with COVID and shift to online and the completed integration of IronPlanet. But Ritchie's US GTV has proven a lot more resilience to inventory tightness this cycle versus last. Can you comment on some of the major differences that is driving the better performance?

Ann Fandozzi -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So, Michael, hi. It's Ann. I'll start and then Sharon can add some color, having not been here in 2017. So the team really prides themselves on really looking at the world the way you guys first met me, which is in our control and out of our control. So let's just use Q1 as the example. We were coming into the quarter, we got very, very clear signals that there would be equipment tightness.

Orlando, if you kind of take out the pricing effect exposed, we were looking at an Orlando down about 30%. And primarily driven by folks saying, hey, listen, I'm going to hold on -- I'm going to hold on to my equipment and a CONEXPO that we knew wouldn't repeat, the Vegas CONEXPO. So we were staring down a fairly hefty year-on-year comp and so the team stood tall and said OK. What's our true north, our true north is driving the best outcome for our customers. So instead of kind of saving cost, pulling back on marketing, kind of, we'll call it conventional wisdom, no, we are going to double down. We are going to drive demand. We are going to drive the best outcome we can for whatever customers we have.

We will then use that as a rallying cry to any customers that are sitting on the fence to bring them forward to say look, look at the results we're driving, so look at the shade of gray, come on in. Very, very pleased by kind of that playbook playing out almost verbatim the way that I described it. And super proud of the team for not flinching, standing tall, understanding the things that we can drive, which is really the demand side to then result in a great price for our customers, our consignors and then kind of bring them into the market. That was kind of the backdrop of how it played out.

Let me pause here. Sharon, anything to add vis-a-vis kind of 2017?

Sharon Driscoll -- Chief Financial Officer

I think the only difference I would point to is the demand environment is significantly different than 2017 is we are clearly seeing robust demand across all sectors whereas in '17 you were really relying on demand for product shifting between construction -- sorry, between oil and gas into construction. And we're really starting to see kind of all sectors' demand is quite strong.

Operator

Your next question comes from Cherilyn Radbourne from TD Securities.

Cherilyn Radbourne -- TD Securities -- Analyst

Thanks very much and good morning. So the Company has always press released the results of large auctions and that's really all that investors have to go on to judge how the business is performing between quarters which is pretty important, I think, as we navigate an unusual cycle. And for the last two quarters at least those large auctions haven't necessarily painted the full picture. So I'm just curious whether the Company has given thought to the need to possibly disclose other metrics to provide better visibility to the investment community.

Sharon Driscoll -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. Hi, Cherilyn.

Ann Fandozzi -- Chief Executive Officer

I'm sorry. Oh, perfect. Hi, Sharon. Over to you.

Sharon Driscoll -- Chief Financial Officer

Okay. Okay, Cherilyn, I will take that and I'll let Ann kind of close off. I think one of the things that we have added to the press releases has been the regional sales. So I think we have added some additional color most recently with the releases of those events. Clearly, we look at different opportunities and what we did incorporate into this Q is some additional metrics for comparison, albeit it is based on quarter releases, not in quarter updates. But I think certainly we're open to feedback in terms of any information that investors or analysts might find helpful. We're continuing to look at ways that we can make that more visible and helpful. But also in the quarter it is -- our auctions are very public so that information is out there on a regular basis anyways. Ann, I don't know if you have anything else to add.

Ann Fandozzi -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, just echoing Sharon's words on our commitment is to help you guys with looking at the business the way that we look at the business, right. And so for us really the headline is that we want to get to a place where -- and you actually saw it in our Q that instead of focusing on live and online, which is really an antiquated metric when 100% of our transactions are online, we are focusing very much on what are the true metrics for sellers that we can be driving which is really kind of the demand generation and the pricing, what are the metrics that we're driving for buyers which is selection and content and how does that translate and translates in the digital world to kind of -- ultimately to bids per item but how much people are clicking in, how long they're spending on each page, like all of these kinds of digital metrics. So completely echoing Sharon's words we in that new mindset, we stand open and want to provide metrics to you guys to see the world that way since we're no longer paid, [Phonetic] putting all our exit in the basket of these large live events, but more putting all of our eggs in the baskets, driving the very best experience for our sellers and the very best experience for our buyers.

Operator

Your next question comes from Gary Prestopino from Barrington Research.

Gary Prestopino -- Barrington Research -- Analyst

Hey. Good morning, everyone. This statistic here bids per lot of 42% is pretty interesting to me. But I was wondering, do you have that comped against Q1 '19?

Ann Fandozzi -- Chief Executive Officer

That is a great question, Gary. I don't have it in front of me, but we will pull it while we're still in the Q&A section. And so before we close out the call, we will pull the stack.

Operator

Your next question comes from Larry De Maria from William Blair.

Lawrence T. De Maria -- William Blair & Company -- Analyst

Hi. Thanks. Good morning. A couple of quick questions here. First to clarify the auction date you referenced, which I guess we'll have to go back to the website to look for, does that -- I assume that includes all the ag day auctions as well, is the first part. And the second part, can you just talk about the up 4.4% core SG&A growth? Is that what we should be modeling for Q2 through four, somewhere in that 4% to 5% range? Was that the point of the comment or should we be looking at something different just to clarify that. Thank you.

Sharon Driscoll -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. So, Larry it's Sharon. I'll handle both of the questions. So, first the auction days, yes, it would include any ag day selling as well. So it would be inclusive of everything online as well as all the different formats.

And then the discussion around SG&A was less a forward-looking comment. It was more just to put current quarter SG&A performance into context versus revenue growth. So, because there were significant puts and takes into that number, we just wanted to kind of unpack it so that you could look at it and then make determinations around how you would view it goes forward.

A couple of things I would note. The FX pressure, just like we called out a normalization on GTV because of FX. A counter to that is that our costs equally increased due to FX, particularly because of the head count and the administrative offices and the sales teams and operations teams that we have in Canada as well as across the globe, particularly in the Netherlands. So that FX impact will carry on for future quarters. Certainly we are optimistic on our performance and hope that the bonus component also carries on, but that's not a given. And the severance would also have been more of a one-time event, albeit not unusual in the quarter. So, therefore, it was not adjusted out and the increase in the res [Phonetic] employees that also will carry on and be non-comparable year-on-year SG&A add.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your next question comes from Michael Feniger from Bank of America.

Michael Feniger -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Hey, everyone. Thanks for taking my questions. Just to be clear, are you not returning to live in-person auctions? We're hearing that some smaller regional competitors are planning to open back up in-person at least in the US. I'm curious if you guys are not planning to do that in 2021.

And just to follow up, I think we saw something about implementation of a higher buyer fee. Sharon, is there any way you could help us quantify that if that is the case and how to think about that for the remaining three quarters of the impact that that could have on rate?

Sharon Driscoll -- Chief Financial Officer

So it's Sharon here. Why don't I start on the fee question and then I will pass the operations comment over to Ann. I think a couple of things I would say about the fee. Fees are a journey around value that you provide to both sellers and buyers and a constant determination of whether that fee structure matches the value that you're providing. And -- so clearly it is something that we do and we look at on a regular basis.

In terms of assisting with modeling, we've done fee increases in the past. I would say that this fee is not dissimilar to kind of the most recent fee uptick that we took. But certainly, we don't give forward-looking estimates of what this would do to our results that I would certainly look to past to see increases as indication of what this could do to our results.

Ann Fandozzi -- Chief Executive Officer

And, Michael, it's Ann. Let me just pick it up from there. So the way we look at fees, like the last fee conversations that we had with you guys and the market was more around fee harmonization, kind of bringing the last pieces of the IronPlanet and Ritchie Brothers integration online. But the way we're thinking about fees is at the end, our costs continue to go up and we look at the competitive environment on fees and judge ourselves against it. It's a normal practice, that's what most industries, most people do on a regular basis, call it annual just kind of review where are we, where are we versus the market and is there -- how do we stack up. Is there opportunity or candidly, do we need to go the other way. So just expect this to be kind of a normal course of an evaluation cycle with no obvious output because it's really going to be kind of market-driven, if you will, and that's what happened here.

We saw small opportunities kind of aligning more to general market practices with a backdrop of obviously, as you've heard from everyone, everyone increasing cost base and us really driving really incredible solutions for customers, increased marketing, increased digital solutions and we're proud to do them, that resulting and the exact output, which is great pricing and the backdrop is the -- obviously our ability to cover some of that with this price increase.

And then for your first question, can you just -- I want to make sure I answer it as intended. Can you just restate? What is it that you're trying to understand about the operations in the lots?

Operator

Just bear [Phonetic] one moment please.

Michael Feniger -- Bank of America -- Analyst

In the online, I'm curious if there will be with vaccinations increase in the US, we're hearing some smaller players are having to put back at auction houses in person. I'm curious how you guys are viewing that right now as you guys have shifted during COVID but with the safety protocols, if there is any shift back with the reopening that's under way?

Ann Fandozzi -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, yeah. And so, we have really gone to great lengths, kudos to our operations team led by Jim Kessler, our Chief Operating Officer, to deconstruct sale day and really understand, again with our true north being the best experience for sellers and then the best experience for buyers. So let's just kind of get on this journey together. So for sellers, what sellers really need by and large is an ability to easily drop their equipment so that Ritchie Brothers can take care of custody and control, right. lift [Phonetic] it up, inspect it, appraise it, market it, sell it and get them the most money. And so we are very clear in those KPIs and driving to do exactly that, get that equipment showcased the right way and kind of drive demand.

For buyers even before COVID, 70% of the actual auction day transactions were happening online anyway. So we really dug deep into what is that the buyers need and first and foremost, they need selection. So obviously size matters greatly and you saw us taking steps in combining regional events into kind of more mega events, if you will, to give that selection to buyers. Buyers also need content. And so there's two ways to gain that content, right. One is in person and we've allowed even during COVID, albeit with scheduling and social distancing, buyers to come and kind of kick the tires of the equipment they are making big bets. We literally had thousands of people come to Edmonton last week, thousands of people come to Orlando in a COVID-safe environment. At the same time we're leaning heavily on digital tools, right, because again, even before COVID, 70% of the buyers didn't come. So we are doing videos. I think you heard us say last time we constantly broke YouTube with the number of video uploads we did, but we do our ironclad inspections, we do videos, we even launched a concierge walk-through service of our yards so that for customers that wanted to see what was out there, our very knowledgeable staff at the yard can take them through it. So it's very much with an eye toward that.

When it's safe to do so, we are going to continue those practices of really driving what is that the buyers want and need in order to make their selections and what does sellers need and we will take our cues from there. But for the key activities that are happening, we're bringing them in only digital formats and allowing the physical to continue while the bidding is -- went from 70% to 100% online.

And before we take the next question we have an answer that since 2019, so the bids per lot sold since Q1 2020 were up 42%. They're up about 50% since '19 because we were almost flat, Q1 2020, we had a very turbulent the start of COVID, if you will, in the back half of Q1 of 2020. Hopefully that answered your question, Michael.

Operator

Your next question comes from Bryan Fast from Raymond James.

Bryan Fast -- Raymond James -- Analyst

Thanks. Good morning, everybody. I was just hoping to get more color on the alliance formed with Gordon Brothers. What can we expect to see from that partnership?

Ann Fandozzi -- Chief Executive Officer

Hello, Bryan. It's Ann. Let me start and take this question. So we are very proud with our partnership with Gordon Brothers. We partnered with them for some time. It's not new. We did, however, formalize it in our Australia region. And there it's really targeted at kind of bankruptcy and insolvency space. So we're bringing the two best elements of the companies where Gordon Brothers really focuses on bankruptcy and insolvency, we focus on the disposition of those assets when they come through. We have formalized that partnership and are very, very excited to bring that to life.

Again, this is a tried and true partner for us all around the world. We worked together in other regions. And in Australia, we have just strengthened that partnership and kind of made the basis of the way we go to market in that region in the bankruptcy and insolvency space.

Operator

And your next question comes from Michael Feniger from Bank of America.

Michael Feniger -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Hey, guys. Sorry, just a follow-up. I'm curious, Ann, if you guys can give any color on IMS, inventory management, like anything you can provide from the beginning of the year in terms of fleet uptake, customers signing up, any KPIs around that so we can have an idea of how that initiative and strategies are tracking.

Ann Fandozzi -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So, Michael, we are still committed to giving you guys KPIs kind of on a regular basis and we're working on what those should be. So really the way to think about IMS is the underlying functionality and then kind of the usage. So in terms of usage, we're looking at a metric of unique monthly users and looking at that metric on a rolling basis, looking at it on a year-on-year basis, so kind of on a rolling basis, we're up -- since Q4 we're up just a little bit over 10% in unique users. But candidly, the bigger story on IMS since the acquisition of Rouse, we're really focusing on the fundamentals. So Rouse had pricing tools in the marketplace. They are the de facto leader in kind of third-party agnostic pricing information. Ritchie Brothers went to great lengths and obviously published our valuation tool. So we spent a great part of Q1 really bringing the methodologies together to ensure we are giving customers the very best, the greatest, the latest, real-time information.

At the same time we've spoken before about the need to kind of get a point of view on so that for buyers there is a transparency to equipment. So getting a win-like common way for customers to be able to understand the equipment and access it and spend a great deal of Q1 putting those plans in place. So really as we take a look at IMS, think about kind of the fundamentals of IMS, the pricing, the kind of cloud solution, if you will, the win [Phonetic] system on the one side and then on the other side, even while we get those fundamentals in place, continuing to drive unique users and monitoring how they're using the data and -- to inform us on what are the value-added pieces to keep adding to the equation.

Operator

There are no further questions at this time. I will turn the call back over to the presenters.

Ann Fandozzi -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you so much for joining us. I'm going to close it out because I believe Sameer dropped off -- the call dropped on him. So how about this is Ann and I will thank everyone on behalf of Sameer, Sharon and I and the executive leadership team. And once again thank our entire team member base for driving an incredible quarter but really being there for our customers and each other every step of the way. Thank you so very much.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 47 minutes

Call participants:

Sameer Rathod -- Vice President, Investor Relations and Market Intelligence

Ann Fandozzi -- Chief Executive Officer

Sharon Driscoll -- Chief Financial Officer

Craig Kennison -- Baird -- Analyst

Michael Doumet -- Scotiabank -- Analyst

Cherilyn Radbourne -- TD Securities -- Analyst

Gary Prestopino -- Barrington Research -- Analyst

Lawrence T. De Maria -- William Blair & Company -- Analyst

Michael Feniger -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Bryan Fast -- Raymond James -- Analyst

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RBA
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