- Inchcape launched a £100m buyback programme as trading in the first four months of the year met its expectations, supported by 'good' growth in its distribution division.

The company also announced the sale of its loss-making Honda and Mitsubishi retail sites in Australia, for £11m as part of plan to optimise its retail operations.

'Given the continued strong cash flow generation of our business and in-line with our disciplined capital allocation policy we are today commencing a new £100m buyback to be completed over the remainder of 2019,' the company said.

For the four months to 30 April, revenue rose 3% to £3.1bn, with its distribution and retail segments also delivering growth of 3% at actual currency.

Distribution, which comprised more than 90% of our profit in 2018, saw 'good' revenue growth across most markets, most notably Asia, where growth was led by Singapore, and Europe. 

But the impact of temporary Subaru supply constraints in Australia offset 'the growth elsewhere in distribution and had an associated margin impact,' the company said,

Retail's continued strength in Russia over the period, driven by Ignite, was somewhat offset by expected sales weakness in UK and Australia retail segments, the company added.

But as a consequence of management's actions, profit across UK and Australia retail had been broadly stable year-on-year, and the company said it was 'confident' this would be maintained for the rest of the year.

'Performance year to date has been in-line with our expectations, and, overall, both Retail and Distribution are on track to deliver the profit guidance that we set out in February,' Inchcape said.

'Our outlook for 2019 therefore remains unchanged, and we continue to expect a resilient constant currency profit performance, excluding the transactional Yen headwind.'

'Within our guidance we expect the Group's H1 profit to be impacted by the supply constraints highlighted, although this will have normalised moving into H2.'

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