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EMH on acquisition trail to boost premium cover

European Motor Holdings is looking to make several acquisitions this year to strengthen its relationships with key partners including BMW, VW/Audi and Premier Automotive Group brands.It has built up a substantial war chest, which will be boosted this year by an estimated £4m territory release payment from Daimler-Chrysler for terminating EMH's London dealers.

The dealer group is still assessing the options available for the disposal of its former Mercedes-Benz showrooms in the city. “The group is in a strong position financially to expand with its major core partners and has their approval to do so,” says Richard Palmer, EMH chief executive. “I believe we will capitalise on this situation in the coming months.”

EMH posted pre-tax profits up 23% to £10.4m for the 12 months to February 28, on turnover up 10.4% to £441m. Net cash has risen from £2.5m to £8.2m. Palmer puts the group's success down to its policy of focussing on premium marques. New models, including the Mini and X-type helped boost sales, and Palmer believes the launch this year of new Range Rover, Discovery and Polo offer “great confidence” for further sales growth.

“Registrations for our key franchises increased by 27 per cent on a like-for-like basis last year compared with an increase in national registrations for the franchises of 22 per cent,” he says.“This performance demonstrates that our strategy of concentrating on strong relationships with manufacturers of premium products continues to be the right one.”

EMH's Perodua import business also improved performance last year, a reflection of the move by buyers towards smaller, low-cost cars. The company predicts further growth this year on the back of the Kelisa, a one-litre engined small car launched in January.

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