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Arnold Clark rises above the £1bn turnover tumble

The AM100 has entered a new phase, with mighty Pendragon plc leading the fall of £1bn plus. A year ago the group was the first UK motor retailer with a turnover to rise above £2bn (and by a margin of £89m).

Now its sales have slumped to £1.637bn and it retains chart leadership by a mere £37m. Its outlets have fallen by about a quarter, from 202 to 153.

In the 2000 AM100, chief executive Trevor Finn's group sales were £489m ahead of Lancaster's. In second place again is Lancaster/Polar, as Lancaster plc now prefers to call itself to take account of the joint venture with Ford Motor Company. Its turnover remains constant at £1.6bn.

Reg Vardy plc, the third of the billion-plus turnover groups, has seen sales fall by £31m year-on-year, to £1.269bn.

Last year the turnover of the top three groups totalled £4.989bn and now the figure is £4.506, a decline of £483m with Pendragon accounting for £452m of it.

CD Bramall (formerly known as Sanderson Bramall) retains fourth position, with its turnover dropping by £12m.

The only group in the top five to increase its turnover is Arnold Clark (by £72m to £795m) which moves up from seventh. The group has added 11 dealerships and now has 88, more than Reg Vardy or CD Bramall.

In part, Arnold Clark's success is a reflection of the motor industry's performance in Scotland where new car registrations rose 33% last month, compared with 5% across the UK.

Arnold Clark's privately-owned company towers over other Scottish retailers and is now in hot pursuit of the Big 4 UK quoted motor dealer groups.

Dixon Motors plc burst into the AM100 at No9 from 13 two years ago with sales totalling £660m and now leaps to sixth position with a turnover of £669m. The group is giving every impression it will keep forging ahead and looks likely to challenge strongly for a top five place.

Ryland Group is the dark horse of the leading 10 groups in the AM100. It has risen four places to enter the big league at No7 while keeping a low profile and overcoming past speculation about its ability to stay solo.

Inchcape Retail (it has dropped the 'Motors') has drifted from last year's fifth place to No8, with turnover coming down from £785.5m to £690m, though its total of outlets has fallen by only seven to 58.

Bristol Street, led by joint chief executives Paul Williams and John Tustain, continues to make the steady progress which has been apparent since their management buy-out.

The group includes the Motor Nation used car operation which would have been affected by the residual plunge, but still managed to increase turnover from £647m to £678m.

Hartwell, which is part of a Middle East conglomerate, is another group whose turnover has declined (by £112m) to £633m which has caused it to fall four places to 10th. The group has 10 Ford outlets, and 11 Vauxhall, in its network of 50.

Camden Motors has advanced five places to 11th, with turnover rising by £80m to £551m, though its network of 18 dealerships remains constant. The detail in the table opposite shows how its used car volume has risen sharply to 24,667, accompanied by an increase in new car sales to 33,067.

Paul Dunkley, Camden chief executive, and his management team have the benefit of guidance from chairman Sir Geoff Whalen, the former boss of Peugeot UK.

Robins & Day, Peugeot's own dealer group, has increased turnover, reflecting the manufacturer's success in consolidating the UK No3 spot in the best sellers list behind Ford and Vauxhall.

The Peugeot retail group rises two places to 12th in the AM100, with its great rival Renault Retail Group falling by the same margin to 14th.

Robins & Day has 41 outlets (six more than last year) while its rival's 21 includes one Nissan which demonstrates how Renault is controlling the retail reorganisation of its subsidiary.

At No13 (down five places) is Arriva Motor Holdings which insists it will stay in motor retailing. Its network has declined by only two.

Sytner Group has made a spectacular rise of seven places to No15 and European Motors Holdings moves up into the 20th position.

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