Annual accounts published by Pendragon have revealed that the business saw an 11.3 per cent increase in turnover during 2015 – to £4.5 billion.
Pre-tax profits, meanwhile, were up 16.4% year-on-year to £70.1 million.
The improved performance was credited to record new and used car sales, the success of EvanHalshaw.com and the greater convenience offered by ‘Move Me Closer’, an initiative which has seen online customers have vehicles delivered to their nearest dealership.
Pendragon chief executive Trevor Finn (pictured) said: "We are particularly pleased with our Evanshalshaw.com performance, where like-for-like used vehicle gross profit improved by over 20%.
“This outstanding performance is due to our focused strategy, strong processes and the evolution of our brands, helped by the launch of 'Move Me Closer' and 'Sell Your Car'. “
The ‘Sell Your Car’ initiative has helped Evans Halshaw grow its used car stock by guaranteeing owners a better price than webuyanycar.com.
Reflecting on the year ahead, which will see Evans Halshaw grow with an additional 40 outlets, Finn added: “We are looking forward to growing the business further from organic activity and selective acquisitions."
On a like-for-like basis, Pendragon’s revenue increased by £590.8 million (+15.8%), with used car revenues contributing a 13.9% rise and new vehicles sales 18.4%.
Aftersales revenues rose by 5.9% on a like-for-like basis.
Across the Stratstone, Evans Halshaw and California businesses Pendragon sold a total of 282,900 vehicles in the 12 months to December 31, yielding a gross profit of 11.9%.
Evanshalshaw.com increased used gross profit by £19.8 million (+21.7%) on a like-for-like basis.
Pendragon’s statement revealed that television and internet advertising, part of the launch of 'Sell Your Car' and 'Move Me Closer' campaigns rolled out in Evans Halshaw had helped to generate a 35.5% increase in web visits – to 20.6 million – and record used vehicle performance.
It also stated that costs had grown at a slower rate to gross profits, “improving the ratio of underlying operating expenses to gross profit from 82.8% to 81.7%.”
The statement added: “Our underlying operating profit margin of 2.3% is in line with the prior year.”
The group, which records £172.7 million of land and property assets in December 2015 and property assets for sale of £16.2 million, has succeeded in reducing its debts by £167 million over the past four years.
Shareholders will receive a final dividend of 0.7p per share in respect of 2015, bringing the full year dividend to 1.3p per share, and a “progressive approach” to future dividend rises, it said.
Pendragon's six month share price to Feb 17, 2016. Source: London Stock Exchange