Lookers wants to expand this year on the back of trading performance which looks set to exceed management expectations.
The dealer group, whose trading brands also include Taggarts in Scotland and Charles Hurst in Ulster, revealed that its new car sales from the first four months of 2010 were 23% ahead of the same period last year.
It said it is about to add five more franchised dealerships to its portfolio. It is also looking for “selective acquisition opportunities”.
Used car volumes and margins were level with last year, the company said, and aftersales was producing operating profits ahead of last year’s performance and exceeding management expectations.
Its independent parts division, which includes distributor FPS, made a significant contribution to group earnings and has also improved on last year.
Peter Jones, chief executive, said: "While market conditions remain challenging we are very pleased with the excellent start to the year.
"Both the parts and motor divisions have produced record trading results in the period and this gives us confidence that we will continue to trade successfully this year and be in a position to pursue strategic growth opportunities as they arise."
The group has kept debt under control and has funding facilities which leave it well placed to make acquisitions.