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Car dealer Marshall defies wider slump in new vehicle sales

Car dealer Marshall Motor Holdings has outperformed the slowing market for new vehicles, as sales of those cars boosted revenues.
One of the country’s biggest dealer groups with 101 franchises selling 23 marques, Marshall’s results for the year to the end of December showed the number of sales of new cars it sold on a like-for-like basis were 2.6pc lower than the year before.
However, this is less than half the decline reported by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders for the wider market.  It said that during 2017 registrations of new cars - a proxy for sales - across all of the UK fell 5.7pc.
Car dealer Marshall defies wider slump in new vehicle sales

Marshall's portfolio includes Maserati
Part of the decline has been fuelled by confusion among motorists about the Government’s policy towards diesel. It wants to discourage the fuel because of pollution concerns, which is causing drivers to hold off from buying a new car. Worries about the country's economic health have also contributed to the fall. 
Marshall said that when not adjusting for new dealerships and closures, its retail sales were 12.3pc stronger during the year at 31,801 cars.  However, “fleet car” sales - such as lease sales to businesses - were down 4.6pc at 21,507.
Marshall said this decline was expected as during the year the commercial decision was taken to withdraw from certain low-margin parts of the sector. 
Daksh Gupta, chief executive, said: “Despite the more challenging market backdrop, we are pleased to announce another record financial performance which was ahead of our previously upgraded expectations.”
He added that decisions to reshape the business, such as the sale of the leasing business, meant the company is now focused exclusively on the motor retail business.
Car dealer Marshall defies wider slump in new vehicle sales

Chief executive Daksh Gupta says the company has a war chest after making strategic disposals during the year
The sale of of the leasing operation for ?42.5m boosted headline profits, with Marshall posting a record pre-tax profit of ?53.1m, up 139pc on last year. Stripping out this and other one-off costs, underlying profits were 14.4pc stronger at ?29.1m, on revenues 19.5pc higher at ?2.3bn.
Marshall’s used car business also performed strongly, with vehicles sales rising 17.1pc overall against the wider markets, 1.1pc decline. The lucrative after sales operation - which services vehicles - also grew, with revenues rising 20pc.
Consolidation is widely expected in the dealer market, as bigger groups snap up small players who are struggling in the tougher market.
Mr Gupta said that Marshall is well positioned for the future to take advantage of opportunities, with the disposals during the year helping slash debt from ?119m last year to ?2.2m, giving it the ability to strike quickly.
Marshall also announced chairman Peter Johnson will retire this summer and a replacement is being sought. Mr Johnson has led the company since it was floated three years ago after being spun out from privately held engineering group Marshall of Cambridge.
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