Strong demand drives Pendragon: Payout lifted as profits surge 32% on turnaround in luxury vehicle sales

PENDRAGON, the dealership specialising in luxury and executive cars, said that demand for new vehicles was the strongest for years.

Trevor Finn, chief executive, who yesterday announced a 32 per cent rise in interim profits, said disappointing M-registration sales did not give the full picture.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed that although fleet sales were strong, private demand was weak. Mr Finn said: 'The car market started to recover over a year ago and only early this year did the luxury and executive areas start recovering. The luxury part tends to recover later.' That explained why the luxury end of the car market was currently stronger than the volume end, he said.

Total UK sales of executive and luxury vehicle sales grew 20 per cent in the first half, but Mr Finn said Pendragon's franchises outperformed the sector. Pendragon's unit sales were 25 per cent higher in August compared with last year.

Private-sector sales were being driven primarily by manufacturers' incentives. When companies differentiated models from their peers, such as through special editions, then sales grew.

The UK car market, up 14 per cent so far this year, would continue to grow, although the rate of increase would slow, Mr Finn said. 'New product introductions, of which there has been a shortage in the last four years, will lead this growth.'

In the six months to June Pendragon's taxable profits rose from pounds 3.07m to pounds 4.06m. The dividend rises to 2.7p from 2.4p.

The share price fell 1p to 249p.