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Lookers confident of strong future

Lookers' chairman Fred Maguire has put the group's solid financial performance down to the strategy of winning “customers for life”.

Today the dealer group published its preliminary results for the year to December 31, 2000 which showed an operating profit before exceptionals and goodwill of £11.8m, up 18% (£10m for the prior 15 month period). Like-for-like new vehicle sales increased 26% increase compared to a national increase of 1.1% and total turnover for the financial year topped £582.5m (£652.5m for prior 15 month period).

Profit before tax for the year amounted to £6.51m compared to £6.44m in the previous 15 month period.

Fred Maguire, Lookers' chairman, said: “The key management action throughout the year was to further improve the customer focus is all areas of our business. This was supported by an early decision to ensure that our pricing remained highly competitive in a market showing modest growth and acute sensitivity to pricing pressures.

“As a result we out-performed the new car market on the mainland with like-for-like sales up 26%.

“Lookers' strategy of investing in our business to win customers for life enabled the group to make good progress in a very challenging market.”

He said Lookers' Audi, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz had performed particularly well.

However, Mr Maguire said that the significant fall in used car values and the repurchase of motability vehicles, involving its Vauxhall and Renault dealerships in particular, had depressed profits.

“Vehicles will continue to be returned under the motability scheme until the beginning of March 2002 and the group increased its provision of £1m which it believes adequately covers any future exposure,” Mr Maguire said.

Acquisitions during the year included 18 outlets costing a total of £13m. These businesses add £36m of turnover.

Mr Maguire concluded that the group was “in good shape to face the future”.

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