Scrap plan boosts Pendragon

CAR DEALER Pendragon said yesterday its first-half profit has halved, but added the government&rsquo;s &ldquo;cash-for-bangers&rdquo; scheme had boosted sales, and that the slump was coming to an end.<br /><br />The UK&rsquo;s largest car dealership, which trades as Stratstone, Evans Halshaw and Chatfields, reported a pre-tax profit of &pound;8.7m for the six months to June, on revenues down 36 per cent to &pound;1.58bn.<br /><br />&ldquo;Britain&rsquo;s car market seems to have stabilised. There are signs that the worst is behind us and the comparisons from last year will start to help now,&rdquo; chief executive Trevor Finn said.<br /><br />&ldquo;Used car margins have improved significantly and we anticipate growth in our sales volumes in the second half. The new car market has risen for the first time year-on-year in July, which gives us reason for some guarded optimism in this area,&rdquo; he added.<br /><br />The company, which trades both new and used cars, said it had seen a &ldquo;significant turnaround&rdquo; from losses made in the second half of last year, but admitted the market was still challenging.<br /><br />Last month, new car sales rose by 2.4 per cent, the first time sales have gone up since April last year, as the scrappage scheme paid off.<br /><br />But there are fears that the increase is just a blip, and that numbers will slump again when the scheme comes to an end. The initiative, which has so far generated around 155,000 purchases, is due to end next February.