Higher profits for car dealership group Lookers despite tough markets

CAR dealership group Lookers said today it had overcome with weakest new car market since 1994 to deliver increased annual profits.

Lookers, which has 111 franchise dealerships representing 31 marques, said new car sales volumes were up 1.1%, despite the wider UK market contracting 4.4%, while used car sales volumes were 2.5% ahead against a flat market.

Pre-tax profits edged higher to �33.8million, from �33.6m in 2010, which Lookers described as a “significant achievement”.

Chief executive Peter Jones said: “These results give us confidence that we can continue to grow the business in 2012, despite short term market conditions remaining challenging.”

The driving force behind the 2011 improvement came from profits generated by dealership aftersales and its independent parts division, which represented 60% of profit in the year.

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Lookers shares climbed by 2% following the statement, with the annual profits rise – its third in a row – beating forecasts in the City. Its total dividend for 2011 also increased by 21% to 2.18p a share.

Lookers’ dealerships include Ford in Sudbury, Colchester, Braintree, Witham and Chelmsford, Land Rover in Colchester and Chelmsford, Volvo, Renault and Kia in Colchester and Toyota in Chelmsford.

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The company added that it had made a good start to the current year, with the business still outperforming the retail new car market.

Mr Jones said that Lookers was trading ahead of budget and the prior year in the first quarter of 2012: “We have a healthy order book for the delivery of new cars in the important month of March and aftersales continue to perform well,” he added.

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