Pendragon boss Trevor Finn has described the company's full year financial results to December 31 which saw a slight fall in turnover year-on-year to £1.4 billion (1999: £1.8 billion) and underlying profits after exceptionals of £12.1m (1999: £15.3m) as “creditable”.
In a statement Mr Finn, Pendragon chief executive, said: “We have achieved creditable results in a year when consumer confidence in the UK car market hit an all time low.
“Trading in December and January has been ahead of expectations and there are clear signs that consumer confidence is returning. Pendragon is ideally positioned to benefit from an improving market with a stronger portfolio of franchises, following the acquisitions and disposals in 2000, the use of innovative technology and our e-commerce strategy.”
He said that trading throughout the year was “significantly” disrupted by issues surrounding new car prices leading to continuing consumer reluctance to enter the marketplace. The Government's inquiry into new car pricing “confirmed the public perception that prices in the UK were unnecessarily high on average than in other EC countries”.
The Government order to offer retailers fleet discounts, Mr Finn said, came into force too late to affect company results.
“In addition we do not believe the terms offered by manufacturers to us are as competitive as similar deals offered to fleets. As a result whilst consumer confidence has recovered since the lows of late 1999 and early 2000, manufacturers must adopt a more transparent pricing policy in order to completely restore consumers' confidence.”
Highlights of the year for Pendragon include the acquisition of 32 franchised dealerships and four bodycentres from Lex Service, the launch of the internet sales operation Tins and a partnership with Microsoft Carview.
Pendragon financial summary for the year 2000 to December 31: