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Used car sales offers Arnold Clark relief

The ongoing slowdown in new car sales has hurt Arnold Clark - but the dealer group says the second-hand market had kept its long-running growth record intact.

The company said that while its sales of new vehicles fell from 45,000 to just over 44,000 last year, used car sales breached the 100,000 mark for the first time - climbing five per cent on 2004.

Finance director Kenny Maclean said: "We were hit last year by the consumer-spending slowdown and the run of interest rate rises in 2003, but we still managed to hold our own. While the new car market was tough, there remained an appetite for second-hand vehicles.”

The Glasgow-based company reported underlying profits up from £46.5 million to £52m last year, while turnover grew five per cent to £1.7 billion.

The group recorded a slide in profits from £57m to £54.1m, but Maclean said that was affected by a £10m one-off gain in 2004, including a £5m VAT reclaim stretching back to 1973. This year, exceptional gains were down at £1.9m - partly due to a £3.2m write-down related to the collapse of MG Rover.

On a positive note, Maclean revealed that the company was building its biggest ever dealership on Castlebank Street in Glasgow - a three-storey structure costing £6.5m. “It will be our flagship dealership," Maclean said.

Arnold Clark has 130 outlets.

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