- Inchcape reported pre-tax profit rose 33.3% to £370m driven by upbeat performance in emerging markets and Asia.

The group said its distribution business - core driver of future growth - achieved strong growth while its retail businesses had a more challenging year as new car sales slowed in developed markets.

The distribution division saw revenue year-on-year rise 16.5% while trading profit grew ahead of sales, up 17.5% in constant currency, driven by strong growth in Asia. This was supported partly by good performance in Singapore, where the commercial vehicles business saw volumes grow by 32% year-on-year.

Emerging markets distribution operations delivered profit growth in constant currency of 70% for the year.

The retail division delivered 3.8% revenue growth but trading profit fell by 14.2% year-on-year, amid a 440 basis points drop in margins. This was partly due to a challenging UK market and underperformance of some European brands in the Australian markets.

The company approved a new £100m share buyback to be completed over the next 12 months, and proposed a full year dividend of 26.8p per share, up 13% year-on-year.

The company said it expects challenges across some of its retail operations to continue.

Stefan Bomhard, Group Chief Executive, said: 'Our strong set of results for 2017 reflects the strength of our unique business model and focus on driving the Ignite strategy in our businesses. I am particularly pleased with the performance across our Distribution and Emerging Markets operations which more than mitigated the challenging Retail environments in the UK and Australia.'

'We have a diversified portfolio business, operating at all points of a vehicle's life cycle, with a strategic focus on higher margin distribution activities and higher growth geographies. Asia and Emerging Markets have performed strongly this year and our South American business, which we acquired in December 2016, is performing ahead of plan.'

'Our world is changing rapidly and our 'Ignite' strategy has been designed to make sure that we stay one step ahead of those changes, and win from them. We expect to see the pace of change gather momentum and we are evolving our business to ensure that we maintain our market leading positions and unique relevance to our OEM brand partners and customers.'

At 10:00am: [LON:INCH] Inchcape PLC share price was -33p at 667p

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