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Profit up at Lookers as sales grow

CAR dealership Lookers reported a 13.5 per cent rise in first-half profit, the group said yesterday, as sales in its used car and parts units rocketed.<br /><br />Lookers said its used car sales rose 8.5 per cent in the first half thanks to a strong recovery in prices since the end of 2008, and added its parts business grew profit by 16 per cent.<br /><br />Lookers, which has over 100 dealerships selling new and used cars, said its pre-tax profit for the six months to June hit &pound;17.6m, while revenue was16 per cent lower at &pound;870.4m.<br /><br />&ldquo;Used cars, parts and aftersales are going really well but we are still cautious on the new car market. We saw a small uplift in new car sales in July but it is still being impacted by weak consumer confidence and fear of unemployment,&rdquo; chief executive Ken Surgenor said. He also added his voice to demands for an extension of the scrappage scheme.<br /><br />However, the company warned the second half would be tough, especially in the sluggish new car market.<br /><br />The firm, which recently raised &pound;80m in a share sale, said its new car sales fell 26 per cent in the first half, despite the government&rsquo;s &ldquo;cash for bangers&rdquo; scheme.<br /><br />Lookers said it would not pay an interim dividend, having paid out of 1.6p per share a year ago.