The country's top 100 performing dealers by turnover were revealed at the AM100 industry dinner last night.
The AM100, which was compiled in partnership with Grant Thornton Automotive, revealed how dealer groups performed during the recession, which was tempered - at least temporarily - by the scrappage scheme.
With new car sales falling, total turnover for the AM100 was down from £38 billion to £35 billion.
But analysis of the AM100 reveals that except for the largest groups, profitability has returned.
The top 20 groups by return on sales shows five groups, headed by AM best retailer award winner Lifestyle Europe, exceeding 3%.
A year ago just one company, Stoneacre, achieved such a figure.
The entry figure to the top 20 groups that achieved the highest return on sale is 2.2%, compared to just 0.6% last year.
The top 10 most profitable groups generated total profits before tax of almost £250 million, compared to £73 million a year ago.
While turnover fell sharply, the £1.4 billion fall is by just two groups in the top 10.
Pendragon dropped by more than £850 million, having closed 26 franchised points, while Inchcape had made its plans to contract clear in order to focus on core brand partners and so its fall in turnover by £26 million was expected.
The top 10s turnover is now at £15.9 billion, £1.3 billion – or 8% - down year-on-year.
The number of outlets run by the top 10 has increased by a little over 1% to 1,021, still some way off 2008’s pre-recession total of 1,110.
Topping the profit per outlet league was the Gilder Group with £713,000.
Last year Porsche Retail Group topped the chart after it made £669,600 profit per outlet.
For profit per staff member the top performer is Halliwell Jones Group at £18,092, compared to Porsche at £10,977 last year.
Other highlights include Marshalls, which moved up four places, crossing the £500 million turnover threshold through acquisitions, a reorganisation of the business and chief executive Daksh Gupta’s unashamed drive to make the group the best car retailer in the UK.
He added 17 sites this year. Its growth is set to continue this year.
Another group with confident and often stated aspirations to grow is Cambria, emerging from its Swindon heartland to pick up businesses with “room for improvement” in Kent and Bolton in the north west, spreading the model of its decentralised management ethos ever further and now buoyed by it’s A.I.M flotation.
Cambria has in its sights two further acquisitions this summer on the back of a 60% improvement in revenues in the six months to the end of February, a net profit margin of 1.4% and a 59% increase in new car sales.
Group 1 Automotive bought south coast-based Chandlers BMW, followed by Barons Group which has brought them into the top 50, at number 42.
Wayside maintains its focus on building market share with a focus on developing its existing territory and existing brands, moving up 19 places to 22.
Johnson Cars and Ridgeway acquired parts of Motorworld, Johnsons adding Mazda and Mitsubishi and Ridgeway expanding with existing partner Volkswagen.
Click here to see the AM100 list and look out for the AM100 special supplement in the June issue of AM.
> A total of £3,170 was raised for BEN at the AM100 Dinner during the table raffle and four tickets for the 139th Open Championship at St Andrews in July.