Announcing profits of £8.5 million before tax, exceptionals and goodwill - a £200,000 increase on the previous year - chairman Frank Sytner said margins were down, mainly as a result of the mix of business - including the 11-dealership Ixion Motor Group - acquired during the year, but added: 'This also reflects pressure on new car business in the last quarter of 1999. Our expertise in the used car market enabled us to mitigate these problems and we entered 2000 with a well-managed used car stock.'
Sytner, who issued a profits warning in November last year said he believed a move towards new car price harmonisation was inevitable in the short to medium term. 'When this occurs, the current strength of underlying demand should mean we can anticipate excellent trading conditions,' he said. The group has also announced plans to develop its internet business further. Sytner websites, acting as portals for its 36 Jaguar, BMW, Lexus, Saab, Volvo, Land Rover, Chrysler-Jeep, Ferrari and Maserati dealers throughout Britain, currently attract more than 25,000 user-sessions a week.