The Motor Trader Top 200 dealer groups turned in a record performance in 2017 with pre-tax profits up 9.9% to £1.07bn on turnover up 12.4% to a new high of £68.9bn.
The average return on sales dipped from 1.3% to 1.24% during the year but the return on sales for the Top 25 dealer groups ranged from 2.1% to 5.8%
The report found that 18 groups recorded pre-tax losses, compared to 14 last time and the average pre-tax profit per employee fell to £6,073 from £6,197
The most significant move of the year was Penske-owned Sytner Group overtaking Pendragon to become the largest player with a turnover of £4.8bn.
Prestige cars were key to Sytner’s success, helping it achieve a record pre-tax profit of £109.4m. It attributed almost all of this 16% profit growth to like-for-like operations.
Pendragon, now displaced from the number one slot, achieved a 2016 turnover of £4.5bn, and pre-tax profit of £73m.
There was one new entrant to the Top 10, the US giant Group 1 Automotive, which expanded its business during the year with the acquisition of Beadles giving it an estimated turnover of £1.7bn.
Vertu, ranked 6, integrated a number of acquisitions during the year and reported turnover of £2.8bn and pre-tax profit of £29.8m
While Marshall Motor Holdings moved up two places from tenth last year with a 54% increase in turnover as a result of its takeovers of SG Smith and Ridgeway.
There were some big movers up the ranks. Brayleys Cars increased its turnover by an estimated 31% moving up 24 places to 118.
One important indicator of growth was the rise in the number of employees for the 168 groups represented in both the 2016 and 2017 MT Top 200s. Overall, these groups increased the numbers employed by 9.3% or 9,971.
Click here to see the full Motor Trader Top 200 report