- Auto retailer Pendragon said its first-quarter profit more than halved, as new vehicle sales slipped and it ran out of used car stock to meet demand.

Underlying pre-tax profit fell to £15.0m from £32.4m in the prior year.

New vehicle sales fell 13.3%, which the company said was broadly in line with a wider market decline.

Used vehicle revenue fell by 1.5%, due to a reduction in 'nearly new' vehicle sales. Excluding nearly new vehicles, used vehicle revenue grew by 3.1%.

In March, the company said it was unable to retain sufficient used stock to meet demand and sales suffered as a result. 'We are increasing used inventory levels in quarter two with a view to capturing an increased volume of activity at an improved margin, as this stock will increase our proportion of newly acquired used stock,' it added.

Used inventory fell by 3.3%, whereas the average inventory of nearly new vehicles fell by 24%. 'The overall impact of this has reduced our margin as we have had a lower proportion of freshly acquired used stock,' Pendragon said.

'The expected market conditions in quarter one impacted profitability. We anticipate our performance in 2018 to be in line with expectations given our assessment of a stronger second half versus a weak 2017 comparative.'

At 8:48am: [LON:PDG] Pendragon PLC share price was -0.92p at 28.93p

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