Bramall silent on bid for rival

Sanderson Bramall, the Harrogate-based motor dealer, yesterday attempted to focus investors' minds on its latest financial results and away from the persistent rumours that it was the mystery bidder for the rival Appleyard group, which last week announced that takeover talks had collapsed.

Firmly declining to comment about Appleyard, the company announced that taxable profits had risen by 10 per cent to pounds 6.7m on unchanged turnover of pounds 320m for the six months to the end of June. The interim dividend has been increased from 1.6p to 1.84p and the shares rose 3p to 223.5p.

The figures are a stark contrast to those reported last week by Appleyard. They showed a 16 per cent drop in profits to pounds 3.88m, including profits on disposals, a 3 per cent drop in turnover to pounds 380m for the same period, and a cut in the interim dividend.

Analysts now expect Bramall to make pounds 14m of profits this year, and predict that Appleyard will struggle to make pounds 6m.

The best performance in the first half at Sanderson Brammall came from the new and used cars division. The division's contribution to profits rose by 16 per cent, and generated 60 per cent of total returns.

New car sales were up around 5 per cent in line with the market and August should have been one of the best months on record chairman, Tony Bramall said yesterday. Brammall has eight Ford, four Vauxhall and two Rover dealerships.

Truck sales fell 2 per cent in a market down 17 per cent, but profits rose 4 per cent. The car rental division has been affected by the lower residual values obtained for ex-rental cars. The strength of sterling has impacted adversely on its portfolio of luxury dealerships including BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Lexus, which are all imported.

Capital expenditure is set to reach pounds 5m this year, including three new dealerships and a site refurbishment, compared with just under pounds 4m spent in 1996. Gearing, though, has halved to 21.6 per cent in the last 12 months.