Pendragon, the car dealer behind Evans Halshaw and Stratstone, reported a 14 per cent rise in used vehicle sales last year, helped by the expansion of its Quicks second-hand car "supermarket".
Underlying profits rose 22 per cent to £30.8m as the group also benefited from higher margins in after-sales, and lower financing costs after it raised £75m from shareholders to reduce its debts in August.
Underlying revenues, however, fell by 3 per cent to £3.4bn, reflecting the squeeze on the car market amid the current economic gloom. The group closed 10 franchises during the year. It said that the strong growth in used sales helped to make up for a fall in new car volumes, which continued to suffer despite strong demand for new prestige cars such as the Range Rover Evoque and a new Porsche 911 model.
Pendragon also reported a surge in sales of white cars.
"It's one of the top five colours for new car buyers," said Trevor Finn, the chief executive of Pendragon, yesterday. "Every 10 or 15 years there's a cycle where white cars become very fashionable, and we're now in it."