Jaguar has posted its first sales increase for 15 months - dispelling some of the uncertainty surrounding the company's future.

The luxury carmaker - which makes three of its four models at Castle Bromwich in Birmingham - reported a near 19 per cent increase in registrations last month. The rise, from 390 vehicles in 2006 to 463, was the first increase since May 2006.

It was even more impressive coming in an overall market that was 0.4 per cent down at 77,649 vehicles, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders yesterday.

But the monthly recovery came as Jaguar sales were still 18 per cent down at 11,983 in the year to date.

Geoff Cousins, managing director of Jaguar UK, said he was pleased with the perfomance, which was the result of a halo of impending XF and the recently refreshed XJ and XK sports car. He said: "The pleasing thing is the growth has been driven by S-Type, XJ and XK. We are down a little on X-Type."

Sales of the Castle Bromwich produced SType were 60 per cent up in the month - despite production ending of the car which is due to be replaced by the XF next year.

Mr Cousins said: "The S-Type has done exceptionally well; it has benefited from a simplified line up, more value being put into it and the dealers are behind it.

"Even in run out, good dealers make money."

Sales of the XJ were 75 per cent up in August, which Mr Cousins attributed to the refreshed model which hit the showrooms last month, while the XK was 10 per cent ahead.

"That may not sound much, but it is when you consider we only launched the XK last year and there was a big increase last year."

X-Type was down five per cent, in line with the company's strategy of focusing on smaller volumes of higher margin cars.

Mr Cousins said: "The premium nich strategy applies to dealers as much as it does to us. Dealer profitability is almost double of what it was last year, and the dealers are much happier."

Meanwhile Jaguar's sister company Land Rover also increased its sales in August, with an eight per cent rise from 925 to 1,003 vehicles in the month.

In the year to date Land Rover's sales were 3.25 per cent ahead at 28,504 vehicles.

The strong sales performance will give a boost to both firms which have been put up for sale by their parent company Ford as the American carmaker seeks to stem massive losses in its US operations.

It emerged yesterday that Italian carmaker Fiat is in talks with Indian conglomerate Tata to mount a joint bid for the two companies, which together employ 15,000 people in the Midlands.

It is thought that Fiat would take a minority stake in the UK businesses if Tata's offer was successful.

Tata and a number of other companies have tabled first round bids for Jaguar and Land Rover and are currently going through a series of meetings and management presentations with executives from both firms.