Pendragon in profit surge after job cuts

CAR dealership group Pendragon said yesterday its profit had doubled after axing more than 600 jobs.

The UK’s largest independent operator of franchised car dealerships – including –?Evans Halshaw and Stratstone – posted underlying pre-tax profits of £25.2m in the year to 31 December.

The company, which sells premium models such as Maserati and Mercedes-Benz through its Stratstone dealership, said used-vehicle volumes would grow in 2011 under its Quicks brand.

Trevor Finn, Pendragon chief executive, said: “The results of our used car operations have been particularly pleasing with out-performance against the market.

“While the group performed well in 2010, what’s more pleasing is to see that momentum carried forward into January, and we look forward to it continuing during 2011.”

The company, which also trades as Chatfields, said after-sales revenues, which include parts and maintenance, dropped from £391.3m in 2009 to £354.7m last year.

But used and new car revenues were up, as were revenues in its wholesale business. Pendragon sold 101,000 new cars last year – or five per cent of the UK market.

It said it would continue to review its 245 franchises for potential closure or sale, in order to further boost its profit. The group said it had reduced its fleet by 4,100 since 2009, while profitability was driven by a strong performance from its volume car retailer Evans Halshaw as well as its prestige arm Stratstone.

Pendragon said it is targeting women, or what it calls “providing a softer sales environment”, at its new Quicks second-hand car supermarkets in a bid to drive up sales.

Finn said: “A lot of the male population is employed by corporates and get company cars.”

Last month BMW and Mercedes recorded bumper sales figures ? fuelled mainly by emerging markets but also a bounce back in US sales.