Chairman Anthony Archer said: 'The group continued to reduce its reliance on low margin fleet sales and concentrate on the more profitable retail side of the business. As a consequence of this change in policy, which led to reduced fleet sales, group new car sales on a like-for-like basis were down 6%. This was offset by a 5% improvement in car margins.'
Fleet sales in the first six months of the year dropped around 600 units to 8,200 compared with 8,800 in the first six months of 1996, while retail sales were static at around 7,600 units. Finance director Charles Cameron said: 'We are being more selective on fleet business and we will continue with that policy. There is no point in selling cars and delivering them to all four corners of the country if we cannot make a return.'