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Inchcape profits growth down to UK record margins and strong emerging market

Inchcape’s full-year 2011 pre-tax profit improved 5.9% to £203.4 million from £192.1 million, and pre-tax profit before exceptional items grew to £227.7 million from the prior year's £214.0 million.

Group sales decreased 1.0% to £5.83 billion pounds from £5.88 billion pounds last year, which it said was largely as a result of the temporary supply constraints from the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan which affected its Subaru distribution business in Australasia and its Toyota/Lexus operations in Europe and Asia, combined with the challenging market conditions in Greece and the UK.

Chief executive Andre Lacroix said: "Our results for 2011 clearly demonstrate the value of our international reach, which has successfully protected us against the uneven recovery of the global automotive market.

"During the year we witnessed strong growth momentum for luxury and premium vehicles in Asia Pacific and the Emerging Markets, although consumer confidence weakened further in the more mature and developed economies of the UK and Europe.
"However in the UK, we benefited from our position in the market, as the luxury and premium segment continued to outperform in an increasingly competitive environment. This meant that we too outperformed the industry, managing to again win market share."

He added: "The group's UK Retail business sales declined by 3.1% in a market that declined by 4.4% compared to 2010. The growth in the UK Retail like for like sales of 1.6% represents a clear outperformance of the broader market.

"The focus on margin growth opportunities and cost management resulted in trading profit growth of 8.3% and a record annual trading margin of 2.6%, an increase of 0.2ppts."

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