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HR Owen reports £3.3m pre-tax loss for 2003

HR Owen plc has reported a pre-tax loss for 2003 of £3.3 million, on turnover which was up £44 million to £534 million. It had made a pre-tax profit of £2.3 million in 2002. Before exceptional items and goodwill amortisation, the pre-tax loss was lower at £1.7m, but acquisitions, disposals and delayed delivery of new high-end models for its luxury/specialist franchises hit margins.

HR Owen sold 20,000 new and used cars last year. The group spent £15.2 million on acquisitions, and ended the year with net debt of £17.6m, which increased gearing from 35% a year earlier to 56%. A share issue last October raised £6.7 used for acquisitions and working capital. Chairman Nick Lancaster said HR Owen's restructuring was now completed, and the firm was poised for future success with the UK's, and possibly the EU's, largest concentration of luxury/specialist franchises.

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