Results for the year to the end of December revealed pre-tax profits leapt to £30.6 million from £4.1 million in 2000, on turnover up 5% to £1.7 billion from £1.6 billion.
Its contract hire operation, Pendragon Contracts, also saw business improve, making an operating profit of £0.5 million, compared with a loss of £0.4 million in 2000 before repurchase commitments of £1.5 million.
Its fleet size fell to 8,127 cars at the end of 2001 compared to 8,993 cars because uncertainty over forecasting residual values meant the firm did not 'aggressively' market for new business. It added that although traffic remained high through its c2K and tins.co.uk leasing websites, conversion to sales was low.
Trevor Finn, chief executive, said: 'The repositioning of our franchise portfolio towards the upper end of the market has improved our quality of earnings and enabled us to take full advantage of returning consumer confidence.
'The proposed changes to the block exemption rules should favour dealers like ourselves and increase our commercial independence from the manufacturer.'