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Lookers in buoyant mood after a strong first half

Volume and specialist marque car retailer Lookers plc will be driving aftermarket growth and expanding its sales territories after announcing record first half results.

Turnover was up eight per cent at £402.7m (£374.4m) with profit before tax rising by 17.8 per cent to £7.7m (£6.5m) on the back of new and used car sales in England up 29 per cent, well ahead of the national market growth of 6.2 per cent.

Listed at No 9 in this year's AM100 with 80 outlets, the group describes its interim results to the end of June 30 as “excellent progress”. It was a period in which Lookers completed Vauxhall market area programmes in Birmingham and Liverpool, brought its Customer Management Centre fully online in a purpose-built facility in Liverpool and reduced gearing to 51 per cent.

The company is also piloting, an internet venture with Morrisons supermarkets, where sales terminals are installed in three stores. Lookers now intends to display used cars in four additional Morrisons outlets, but without sales points, as an extension of the programme.

“We believe the new car market will remain buoyant and we will benefit in the second half year from the investment made in integrating our recent acquisitions,” says Lookers chairman Fred Maguire. He says the group will be looking to expand in the East Midlands, Manchester and Essex.

Maguire is on AM record as saying he foresaw Lookers as one of five or six superdealer groups in the near future but adds: “We've no ambition to be the biggest retailer in the UK. I would like it to be the most profitable, though.”

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