LONDON -- Pendragon Plc, Britain's largest car dealership, delivered a 19 percent rise in first-half profits on Thursday after cost savings and new acquisitions helped it to shrug off a weak UK car market.
Pendragon said current trading was in line with expectations, despite a fall in new UK car registrations, and it planned to continue expanding this year.
"We are confident of our full-year objectives. We will be acquisitive, more likely at this stage of the game to be acquiring privately owned small dealerships," Chief Executive Trevor Finn told Reuters.
The company said pretax profit before exceptionals for the six months to June 30 was 36.8 million pounds ($65.5 million), compared with 30.8 million pounds a year ago.
Finn pointed to analysts' consensus forecast of about 58.5 million pounds for the full year.
The group has been expanding through acquisitions and reducing costs as it integrates the new purchases into its own dealer management systems.
It reduced borrowings by 20.5 million pounds in the period, achieving internal targets following a major acquisition the previous year, which now gives the group room to eye more deals.
Pendragon faced a tough UK car market during the year, with new car registrations falling 5.8 percent. The result included a 2.9 million pound exceptional charge related to the collapse of British carmaker MG Rover in April.
Pendragon has closed three of its 16 original MG Rover sites. Three others will be reopened under different franchises and 10 sites will continue to sell Rover cars.
Pendragon said it would recover the exceptional costs through profits on Rover property disposals.
The specialist in prestige and luxury cars nearly doubled the size of its UK business with the 230 million pound purchase of rival CD Bramall in 2003. The deal strengthened its position with premium brands such as Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW and Mercedes.
The company is the largest distributor of Harley Davidson motorbikes outside the United States and the sole seller of Cadillacs in Britain.