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Lookers profits soar

Lookers has reported a 40% rise in operating profit to £25 million for the first half of the year compared to £17.8m over the same period in 2006.

Pre-tax profits were recorded at £18.1 million, up 41% from £12.8m.

Revenues at the car dealership group increased by 21% to £878.9m for the six months to the end of June and adjusted operating profit was 13% ahead at £24.9m, it reported.

The group is paying an interim dividend of 1.6 pence a share, after particularly strong performances from its Vauxhall, Mercedes and specialist cars franchises.

Lookers said its 25 Premier Automotive Group dealerships delivered a good performance in Scotland and Northern Ireland for Land Rover and Jaguar, but the South East was more challenging and the Volvo franchise performed ‘well below expectations’.

Sales were up at the group's used-car supermarkets, but management issues resulted in a ‘very disappointing financial performance’ with losses incurred in the first half, it said. However, Lookers said these issues had been addressed and it expects to see improvements in the second half.

Lookers said the second half had started well and the order book for September, usually the second-largest retail month, is ahead of last year, although higher interest rates have had a 'slightly negative' impact on consumer confidence.

Commenting on the results, Ken Surgenor, chief executive of Lookers, said: “Our broad-based business model ensures we are well placed to capitalise on the growth opportunities in our markets and we remain confident for the outlook of the remainder of 2007,” the company said.

“I am delighted to report that Lookers has continued to outperform the market and achieved record results for the period, in line with expectations.

“This excellent performance is testament to the success of our proven strategy. We remain dedicated to the further development of our complementary business through both organic growth and acquisitions. Moreover we have on eof the broadest revenue streams in the industry.

“Our business model means that we are well placed to capitalise on the growth opportunities in our market and we remain confident for the outlooks of the remainder of 2007.”

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