Bristol Street Motors owner Vertu bucked a 1.4 per cent downturn in the UK new car market in March with a 23.4 per cent increase in sales.
The month, the most important in terms of profitability for the country’s diffuse retail motor sector, was outside the timescale of Vertu’s maiden set of annual results, published on Wednesday.
These showed that the company, which began trading on March 27, 2007 when it bought Birmingham-based Bristol Street Motors Group for £40 million, made a profit before tax of £140,000 on revenue of £677.2 million in a year of acquisitions.
Adjusting for exceptional costs, profit before tax was £1.8 million while EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) came in at £5.1 million on an adjusted basis.
In that time Vertu, headed by former Reg Vardy managing director Robert Forrester, has become the tenth largest operator in a sector in which small independents still predominate despite large scale consolidations at the top of the market. The top ten dealers still control only 20 per cent of the country’s dealerships.
The figures show that the Newcastle-based company achieved an operating profit of £3.1 million before exceptional costs before the peak trading month.
They also show that the company, which is 28.1 per cent geared, generated an operating cash inflow of £21.9 million in its first year.
Now with 46 dealerships in its portfolio, Vertu saw new retail car volumes rise by 10.6 per cent on a like for like basis during the year against a rise in private registrations of 0.7 per cent.
Sales of used cars, a "major priority" for Vertu, rose by 23.6 per cent during the year
Mr Forrester said: "I am pleased to report that since our flotation in December 2006, the group has made rapid progress towards its strategic goals of acquiring UK motor retail businesses and delivering organic profit improvements from these businesses.
"We are now the tenth largest motor retailing group by turnover."
Vertu said last month that its strong balance sheet meant it was able to buy back ten per cent of its shares.
Meanwhile, global automotive consultant Ricardo has said its UK performance had been benefiting at the expense of Germany.
The company, which has a base at Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, said that so far this year it had transferred more than six million euros (£4.8 million) of work to the UK from Germany because of local capacity constraints.
"These actions have led to a reduced local operating profit performance in Germany, but this has been more than compensated for by increased performance from the UK," Ricardo said in a trading statement.
The first ten months of the current year saw revenues grow by 13 per cent, resulting in increased profit, compared with the same period the year before.
"Although the order book has reduced slightly since December 20078 as some of the larger programmes are executed, it remains strong at £95 million [compared with £98 million in December 2007] at the end of April," Ricardo said.
The company will announce its results for the year to June 30 on September 24.