Appleyard, the Yorkshire- based group, also announced the purchase of five more dealerships for pounds 10.2m cash, bringing its total outlets to 46. The dealerships, in the Midlands and North-west, were bought from the foods group Whitworths which did not consider them part of its core business.
The five outlets made operating losses of pounds 100,000 last year on turnover of pounds 44.6m, and had net assets of pounds 8.9m. John Atkin, business development director, said: 'It's an important acquisition for us as it brings us into Toyota and Ford franchises for the first time and fits with where we wanted to expand geographically'.
Appleyard's pre-tax profits soared from pounds 200,000 in 1992 to pounds 5.1m last year on the back of the national rise in new car sales. But an analyst pointed out that the group was still a long way off its peak profits of more than pounds 11m in 1989, despite making acquisitions.
Meanwhile, profits at Quicks Group, the Manchester-based dealer, rose 48 per cent to pounds 3m before tax in 1993. Turnover jumped from pounds 198m to pounds 253m but included pounds 52m from the acquisition of Laidlaw last July.
Laidlaw contributed just pounds 336,000 but Alec Murray, chief executive, said that the company had spent a considerable amount on restructuring and rationalising after the merger. He expected Laidlaw to contribute more than pounds 1m this year.