Evans says car sales growth is slowing

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EVANS HALSHAW, the Birmingham-based motor dealer, warned yesterday that car sales growth was slowing down, writes Tom Stevenson.

It said the new car market remained highly competitive, with inadequate margins.

Geoffrey Dale, chairman, said sales of M registration cars in the first two weeks of August were 10 per cent ahead of last year, whereas August 1993 had shown a 15 per cent improvement over August 1992. The first half of 1993 was 14 per cent up on the first half of 1992.

He said economic forecasts indicated a continuing but slower rate of growth for the next three years. Repair and servicing sales would continue to make a big contribution in tough conditions.

During the first half to June, pre-tax profits jumped 85 per cent to pounds 6.91m, almost matching the pounds 7.8m achieved in 1993. Sales, which rose 43 per cent to pounds 271m, were boosted by the acquisition last year of TK Motor Group.

Since the end of the first half the company has made two further acquisitions, of Davenport Vernon and GT Cars, funded by a three-for-10 rights issue.

Mr Dale said that operating margins had risen above 3 per cent for the first time since 1989. Earnings per share rose from 11.3p to 19.6p and the dividend jumped from 3.8p to 5p. The company said the full-year total would be 15p. The shares closed unchanged at 441p.