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Bramall thinks small after record results

CD Bramall has consolidated its position among the top dealer groups in the UK with a strong set of results for the six months to June 30, 2003. Pre-tax profits rose 28 per cent to £17.1m and turnover soared 57 per cent to £905m following last year's acquisition of Quicks.

The company is proving that its strength lies in diversity – with a record half-year for the truck division, improved contributions from Bramall Contracts and Thrifty, and a rapid assimilation of Perry's Distribution Services into the Quickco wholesale parts business.

Although chairman Tony Bramall says core volume franchises like Ford and Vauxhall are performing well, CD Bramall is increasingly benefiting from its premium-brand dealerships. The results coincided with the acquisition of its fifth Mercedes dealership, in Preston.

New car sales rose four per cent over the same period last year, while unit margin increased 11 per cent. Used car sales reached 26,345 – a jump of 11 per cent. “We are being offered opportunities to enhance our relations with various manufacturers – including Peugeot/Citroen and Ford PAG,” says Bramall. “We hope these will come to fruition in the next 18 months to two years. But we are not expecting any imminent acquisitions on the same scale as Quicks. We will make selected acquisitions in areas that make sense.” Bramall believes the greatest benefit of new block exemption is the freedom to buy and sell businesses without outside approval. The group's recent buoyant share price – in common with other dealers – is due to perception of its value.

“Previously uncertain factors like the internet, Europe and block exemption have all been clarified, and the financial markets are now showing confidence in the motor retail sector,” says Bramall.

He adds that perhaps only two of the company's 93 car dealerships are not profitable, but they will be profitable soon. But there is “still much to be done” to improve margins at the ex-Quicks businesses.

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