Car dealer Pendragon has reported an increase in its full-year profits due to rise in demand for new cars in the UK.
The company said in a stock exchange filing that its profit before tax increased to £37.8m ($58.6m, €43.8m) for the year ended 31 December from £24.0m, a year ago. Underlying profit which excludes non-trading divisions rose by 18 percent on-year to £36.4m while the yearly revenues rose by 5 percent to £3.6bn.
On a like for like basis, used vehicle sales increased by £87.4m and new sales rose by £147.6m.
Meanwhile, car volumes increased by 15 percent during the year on a like-for-like basis as its main dealer websites saw an 18 percent increase in the number of visitors.
Pendragon runs 250-plus retail outlets, trading as Stratstone, Evans Halshaw and Quicks. It sells and services a broad range of new and used cars and commercial vehicles in the UK.
"The Group has performed strongly in a recovering vehicle market and Evanshalshaw.com, Stratstone.com and Quicks.co.uk continue to enhance our online performance," said Trevor Finn, chief executive.
"The continued investment in our online strategy has established a strong platform for the business. The Group is encouraged by the improvement in the used and new vehicle departments and remains on track with its debt reduction targets."
At the end of the fiscal year, Pendragon had a net debt of £216.4m, down by £30.4m over the year. The company also proposed a final dividend payment of 0.1 pence per share for the year.
The automotive retailer also named Mel Egglenton, former KPMG partner as chairman designate for the retail group. Egglenton succeeds Mike Davies, who is retiring after the 2013 annual general meeting on 22 May.
Egglenton joined Pendragon in December 2010 as an independent non-executive director.
Looking ahead, the company expects the UK vehicle market to continue its recovery with higher new and used sales as well as after sales.