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Inchcape profits rise 32.1% to £97.9m

Inchcape plc's decision to dispose of non-core operations is paying dividends after the group posted underlying profits up 32.1% last year to £97.9m. Turnover rose from £2.97m to £3.23m, although pre-tax profits dipped 16.9% to £61m after a £36.7m goodwill write-off to disposals.

The company had a busy trading period in 2001. It paid £26m for the highly profitable Bates Motor Group, acquired the remaining 51% of the Eurofleet logistics service and launched two joint ventures – Buyacar with the AA and AutoCascade, a pan European remarketing firm with Avis Europe.

Peter Johnson, Inchcape group chief executive, said: “It has been a highly successful year in terms of ongoing trading and in the near completion of our disposal programme. As predicted, we have seen a bounce back in our UK profits.”

He said the company was approaching its goal of retailing between 5% and 10% of its preferred partners' national sales volumes. They include BMW, Toyota/Lexus, Jaguar, Land Rover and VW/Audi

“Opportunities will arise in the specialist retail business as the manufacturers continue to consolidate their dealer networks,” said Mr Johnson. “We do not believe this business will be fundamentally impacted by the proposed changes to Block Exemption.”

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