Geoffrey Dale, chairman, was upbeat about the group's prospects, saying that 1994 had got off to a roaring start with sales in the first two months 25 per cent ahead of last year.
'The market generally is very strong, but we're well ahead of that,' he said. 'Last year, our new car sales rose by 28 per cent compared with an increase in registrations nationally of 12 per cent.'
He added that the group had scored equally in the fleet market and with sales to private consumers. Used car sales rose 16 per cent.
Mr Dale was not unduly concerned that the tax rises due to take effect next month would slow the recovery in car sales. 'Everybody has been aware of the impending changes for some time and it has not stopped them buying.'
Last week Evans Halshaw continued its trail-blazing programme to put several car dealerships on one site when it opened a five-franchise development at Solihull.
The site, Evans Halshaw's second, cost pounds 3.5m to develop. Mr Dale said that opening five separate green-field dealerships would probably cost about pounds 5m. 'There are also the operational savings that come from having common services, although each dealership is a separately staffed, fully fledged franchise,' he said.
Evans Halshaw now has 55 dealerships, having bought TK Motor Group in November for pounds 9m. The dividend rises from 11.25p to 13p on earnings per share of 24.3p (5.4p).