Turnover was 15.6 per cent higher at pounds 205.2m and Peter Vardy, chairman, said the results were achieved despite the most difficult trading conditions since the recession began.
Margins came under pressure and earnings per share fell slightly to 7.1p (7.4p). But the company said that orders for the crucial trading month of August were well ahead of last year and the recovery in car sales appeared to be solidifying.
Mr Vardy said the company's strong balance sheet - it had pounds 3m cash in hand at the year-end - put it in a good position to continue its growth. Last month the group added a Renault dealership in York and a Fiat franchise in Aberdeen to its portfolio, bringing its total outlets to 25.
Vardy expanded its specialist division in May, buying Mercedes dealerships in Cambridge and Glasgow. A second Nissan dealership was opened in Middlesbrough on 1 July.
Mr Vardy was critical of the Government, saying the negative effect on consumer confidence caused by recent gaffes could hinder recovery.
Graeme Potts, managing director, said he believed motorists would realise that now was the best time to buy a new car because of low interest rates and strong price competition among manufacturers.
'There is also a shortage of good used cars, which makes them expensive and narrows the gap between the price of a used car and a new one,' he added.
The dividend rises 7.4 per cent to 2.9p and there is a scrip alternative. The shares firmed 4p to 150p.Reuse content