AM100 dealer group Caffyns has begun a search for a new chairman as Brian Birkenhead has announced plans to retire next year.
The stock market listed group, which trades from 19 sites in the south of England, has hired an independent executive search company and said the process is progressing well.
Birkenhead told shareholders at Caffyns' AGM yesterday he will step down in July 2012. He became chairman in 2008, and has been on the board since 2004.
He reported that Caffyns had remained profitable in the three months to July 1, although at levels lower than the previous year.
New car volumes had dropped 15.7% like-for-like, and used car sales were down 6.2%, with reduced margins.
However aftersales remained in line with budget, with strong retention of existing customers.
"Our key strategic objectives have been to return to profitability by way of operational improvements and cost reductions, re-balancing of the franchise portfolio and growing organically and by acquisition in order to deliver enhanced shareholder value.
"The re-balancing has focused on the premium and premium-volume sectors and this has now largely been completed. However, economic conditions generally are not encouraging for retail businesses and we remain cautious about the outlook," he added.