Inchcape’s UK business has grown half-year operating profits by 4.8% against the first half of 2011, despite revenues remaining flat at £1.085bn.
On taking out its Inchcape Fleet Solutions division, like for like sales at its Inchcape Retail dealer group actually rose by 3% to £1.064bn in the period, and its trading margin improved from 3% to 3.2%, a record for the business. The trading profit rose 4.3% to £33.8m.
Inchcape said the group has gained market share and revenue growth was driven by strong new product launches including the Audi A1 Sportback, Audi Q3, BMW 3 series and 6 series GT, Mercedes-Benz B Class, Lexus GS, the MINI Roadster, the new Porsche Boxster and 911, the Toyota Yaris Hybrid, the VW Beetle, Passat Coupe and Up.
In the used car market, its vehicle margin was broadly in line with last year and aftersales continued to perform well, it said.
Given the stronger than expected industry performance in the first half year, particularly in the premium and luxury segments, it has revised its full year industry estimate to 1.98 million units, up 2% year on year.
Group chief executive Andre Lacroix said: “We are well placed to continue to gain market share in the UK by leveraging the strong pipeline of new product launches including the Audi A2, A3 and A6 Avant, Jaguar XF Sportsbrake, Lexus RX 450h, Mercedes' new A Class and Toyota's GT86 and Prius+.
“Finance and insurance remains a key driver for margin growth and we intend to increase the strong penetration rates that were achieved in the first half.
“We expect our UK business to deliver a robust performance in 2012.”