As contract hire and leasing companies across the board took a residual value hit - particularly in the second half of last year - with some announcing profits warnings, Lex Vehicle Leasing said underlying profit in the company grew significantly, driven by an 8% growth in the fleet to 98,000 cars and vans from 91,000 at the end of 1997. But, Lex Vehicle Leasing is optimistic for 1999 saying the used car market has started encouragingly this year following its deterioration in the second half of last year.
Following the £3.5 million pre-tax profit drop a company spokesman said: 'Despite ghastly residual value warnings our profits were not halved or smashed to pieces. The key to profit in the leasing business is profitable fleet growth and that is what we are aiming for. We will not shave margins and take risks on residual values.'