Fleet News

Dealers upbeat over prospects

DEALERSHIP groups are upbeat about their sales prospects following the Department of Trade and Industry's publication of The Supply of New Cars Order 2000 aimed at encouraging vehicle manufacturers to cut car prices. Among half-year results from dealer groups, the Manchester-based Quicks Group said while it was difficult to predict the impact of the Order on final quarter trading, the company's September order intake was 'encouraging' following weaker than expected trading in July and August.

It was a view shared by rival dealers, including Arriva, Sytner Group and Lookers, which also published results for the six months to June 30 this week.

Quicks chairman Michael Moore said: 'We believe Quicks is well placed to build on its competitive position once confidence has been restored to the market.'

The company reported pre-tax profits up from £1.8 million in the first six months of last year to £2.9 million, largely due to the elimination of exceptionals on reduced turnover of £305.87 million.

New vehicle sales are chiefly focused on small fleet customers and retail buyers and, as such, half-year new car sales were broadly static although non-core Ford businesses 'performed well' with volumes up 15.1% on a comparable basis. Used car sales for the half-year were down 3.2%.

Lookers has also bucked the poor financial returns in the sector and claims further slumps in residual values are unlikely. Publishing interim results for the six months to June 30, chairman Craig McKinney said the September 1 introduction by the Government of the Supply of New Cars Order 2000 had been the launchpad for lower car prices and would stimulate sales.

'We welcome the fact that our overall buying power will allow us to purchase on similar terms to large fleets, improving our trading position and enabling us to pass on lower prices to customers,' said McKinney. 'In our opinion, the latest new car pricing trends have been taken account of fully in the used car market and therefore it is unlikely that there will be further major downward adjustments.'

For the half-year, the company reported pre-tax profits up 11% to £5.03 million on turnover up 6% to £297.86 million boosted by new car sales up 8%.

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