EMH this week reported a fall in pre-tax profits to £5 million (1997: £6.2 million) for the six months to September 30 on turnover which fell to £233.8 million (1997: £241.1 million). Earnings fell to 6.4p a share (1997: 7.9p). The interim dividend is held at 2.6p a share.
Richard Palmer, EMH's chief executive, said falling consumer confidence and high interest rates were hitting the industry, but claimed that the soon-to-be-introduced twice-yearly vehicle registration system and manufacturer policies were also impacting on margins.
He said: 'The lack of confidence in the market means some customers have deferred their next car purchase, particularly because the change from an annual registration plate system to a bi-annual system from the next calendar year means they only need wait until next March to buy a vehicle with a T registration. Plus there is an over-supply in the UK of new cars, which has had a damaging effect on used car prices. This damage will continue as long as some volume manufacturers encourage their dealers to pre-register cars.'