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New car marketNewsDealer profileUsed car analysisInsight: RecruitmentPeugeot UKNewsdigestNew car newsNew car marketBy Tim RoseNew car registrations strengthened in the March 12-plate campaign to drive the first quarter's market to 0.9% growth overall - an improvement of 5,220 units on Q1 2011.Moreover, almost all of that growth was achieved in the private registration segment, which lifted 5.8% in the quarter. That's a positive sign that ought to hearten franchised dealers who are continuing to optimise their opportunities in such difficult market conditions.The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders noted that registrations have risen in four of the past eight months. However, it said the underlying market trend is more about stability than growth. March's registrations totalled 372,835 units, up 1.8% year on year and 20,000 units ahead of the SMMT's forecast. It pointed out that the growth in March comes on top of a weak 2011 perfor-mance and registra-tions in the month still remain some 17% off the pre-recession March 2007 total.Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said: "Domestic demand for new cars is showing signs of recovery with private buyers increasingly returning to take advantage of a wide range of excellent products and, this month, the new 12-plate."Dealer profitability still remains under question, however, as the data shows the B-segment, or supermini, accounted for 37.7% of the Q1 market. It is a segment high in competition for most fran-chises, and which offers relatively poor upfront profit margins for retailers due to the comparatively low purchase prices.Sue Robinson, RMI director of the National Fran-chised Dealers Association, said the increase in retail car sales highlights the early signs of a more stable market. She described the March result as one of the best monthly increases for private demand in two years.Robinson added: "March is typically a strong month for new car registrations with the plate change boosting sales. However the strong increase in private registrations shows some signs of economic Top 10 models in March by UK regionClick here March 2012new car regs by UK regionClick here New car sales increase by 0.9% year-on-year in Q1 - beating SMMT predictionsPrivate registration growth delivers market stability Sue Robinson: 'Signs of economic recovery'Continues over