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HR Owen carries out strategic review

Supercar franchise specialist HR Owen is undertaking a strategic review aimed at ensuring more robust cashflow and profits.

Jon Walden, who took over as chairman in January, has put the publicly listed dealer group under the microscope.

Walden said although he was impressed by the dedication and commitment of the workforce to the business and its brands, it was clear to him that the group must develop a strategy for profitable growth in order to remain a public company.

2009 saw HR Owen's turnover drop to £125.4m from £144.5m the previous year, and it recorded a £1.3m loss before tax and exceptional items, compared to £300,000 profit in 2008.

However its balance sheet received a £7.5m exceptional gain from early surrender of the lease on the group's workshop in Wandsworth, London.

In today's results announcement, chief executive Nick Lancaster said its dealerships' results were in most cases "well ahead of our internal budgets" but the group remained dependent on high new car volumes to allow its business model to make a pre-tax profit.

An excellent performance in used car sales last year is hoped to continue this year, and the group plans to increase this significantly with the help of its Melton Court showroom in South Kensington, which opened last year as the used centre HR Owen Specialist.

It will also open London's second Rolls-Royce showroom at Melton Court once planning permission is obtained.

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