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Reg Vardy sets out plans to open 160 new dealerships

Reg Vardy, one of the UK's biggest dealer groups, is planning to become one of Europe's largest automotive retailers – buoyed by sales of more than 200,000 cars in its current financial year.

That would see the company's turnover rise from £1.4bn to £1.7bn, putting it second in the AM100 list of dealer groups by turnover behind Pendragon. And the group, which currently has 82 sites, is planning to open 160 dealerships across its eight UK regions over the next few years, making it the larget group in Europe by today's standards. It is on target to reach 100 dealerships by April.

Reg Vardy saw 2003 interim takings rocket on the back of record new car sales for the six months to October. Pre-tax profits were up 35.2% to £24.6m on a turnover of £794.6m – up 18% from £668.7 over the corresponding period in 2002. This strong performance is based on the group's new and used vehicle sales, as well as a successful aftersales strategy, contract hire division and £136m property management operation.

The company has spent more than £34m on new business acquisitions since February last year and is opening two Vauxhall dealerships in the west of Scotland and a new Volkswagen dealership in Redditch, West Midlands.

Chief executive Sir Peter Vardy says the new vehicle market in the UK, while very competitive, is running at an all-time high. “This buoyancy is mirrored in a strong used vehicle market.”

New and used sales to October accounted for 87,920 vehicles – up 11.3 per cent from 79,022 in 2002. The firm's specialist division, which includes Aston Martin, BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes, Mini, Smart, saw a 30.3% increase in volume from 4,495 to 5,855 vehicles. Margins rose from 7.2% to 7.4% on new car sales, 62.6% to 63.4% on aftersales and 25.5% to 25.8% on parts. Used car margins fell from 11% to 10.8%, however.

The bullish results come as Sue Porter rejoins the company as group sales director. Porter, who spent five years with Vardy as sales development manager, moved to take up a position as director at Lancaster in 2001.

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