The group spoke of its optimism under the new regime as it revealed a 25% increase in interim pre-tax profits from £43.6million last year to £54.3m.
Commenting on the EC's changes to block exemption, the group said in a statement: 'The reforms offer considerable opportunities to Inchcape giving us greater control over the shape of our retail investments, a choice of whether we provide sales, service or a combination of both and greater security of tenure. We will also now be able to leverage our new channels to market more effectively.'
The group's biggest European operations are based in the UK as well as Belgium and Greece, two countries which it said achieved an operating profit of £12.8 million in the first half of 2002, compared to £5.8 million from the same period last year.
Inchcape said: 'In Greece, despite the market being down 7.4%, profits increased. The new Corolla has been well received but supply constraints have held back first half volumes.
'Our ancillary businesses in Greece continue to perform well and our results have benefited from the closure of the loss making daily rental business. Our Balkans businesses were profitable compared to the start up losses incurred last year.'
And commenting on its performance in Belgium, the company said: 'The market in Belgium was down 1.7% despite this being a Brussels Motor Show year. However, Toyota's volumes grew by 38.0% increasing our market share to 5.2%.
'This is due to the success of the new Corolla and, importantly, the new diesel variants in a number of key models allowing Toyota to increase its diesel market share in the passenger car market from 2.1% to 4.1%.
'This, allied to an improved supply of RAV4, has resulted in an impressive operating profit performance.'