Profit before tax was down at £43.8m compared to £45.6m last year.
Sir Peter Vardy, chief executive, says: “The results reflect the reduced consumer demand for new cars experienced since May 2004. We are pleased to report that current trading in May and June has been ahead of last year’s levels, reflecting enhanced performances from dealerships acquired or started up in the past two years and the benefit from cost savings undertaken across the group.”
Operating margins before goodwill amortisation and exceptional items fell to 2.33% from 2.82% last year.
“Whilst the new car market is likely to remain subdued for the remainder of the calendar year, we remain positive that group performance can move forward through continuation of these trends,” says Vardy.
The recent acquisition of the five North East businesses of the Priory Motor Group highlights the continued opportunities of growth for the group. This increases Vardy's number of BMW dealerships from two to three and boosts its Vauxhall representaion from 13 to 15. Its total portfolio now comprises 98 outlets.
The company also reported that profits on sale of properties and business operations reached £6.3m compared to £5.5m last year.
Exceptional charge arising from the administration of MG Rover reached £2.8m and operating cashflow was up 76.7% to £66.6m compared to £37.7m.
Vardy concluded: “The group remains in a very strong position with low levels of gearing and high levels of cash generation. This will allow a continuation of both investment in new businesses and the share buyback programme we commenced in 2004.”