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NewsBy Jeremy BennettCambria Automobiles has seen a more than 50% fall in profits year-on-year, a performance judged as "relatively resilient" by chief executive Mark Lavery.Revenue for the six months to February 29 was down £17.3 million to £184.2m and profit before tax was £1.1m compared to £2.6m in the same period last year. The drop is attributed to weaker new car sales and profitability.Gross profit fell by 5.8% to £22.7m from £24.1m, but the overall gross profit margin for the period increased to 13.6% compared to 13.1% in the previous period.Profit before tax dropped to £1.1m compared with £2.6m in the prior year. The businesses that have been within the group throughout the 2011 financial year made a profit before tax of £1.2m, whereas the Southampton Vauxhall business bought from Hartwell (its eighth acquisition since 2006) in the 2012 financial year made a loss before tax of £0.1m.Lavery said: "The group has performed in line with our expec-tations and has produced a relatively resilient performance against a difficult market backdrop with weak consumer confidence, rising unemploy-ment, inflationary pressures and adverse exchange rate pressures impacting on the vehicle manufacturers that we represent during the reporting period.Cambria profits halved as Half-year performance 'relatively resilient' despite weaker new car sales and profitabilityAMi comment: Business is very new car dependentConsidering its strategy of buying underperforming businesses, Cambria is doing quite well in making any money at all, although it has not been able to cut its overhead base as fast as its turnover fell.The business is, however, very new car dependent, more so than organisations that have been building on their local presence and brand for a long time. With the turnaround strategy comes the opportunity of quick wins when you re-establish control, but also the need to rebuild customer loyalty, which takes time.And so with the strategy and the resultant lack of maturity of the businesses acquired and the lack of a comparatively strong aftersales parc and customer database, Cambria is exposed, vulnerable in the fact the turnaround businesses don't have loyal customers. Mark Lavery

New car marketNewsCV ShownewsUsed caranalysisNews RecruitmentdigestDealer profileShowroomas revenue falls by £17.3mCambria's turnaround plans have not yet had time to bear fruit, allowing it to be less new car dependent. Everyone complains about aftersales pressures, but volumes should be holding up as people have their cars serviced rather than replacing them.Things can only get better for Cambria as long as it works on the turnaround plan, sticking at it with the right formula.www.am-online.com/ami"The board foresaw that this trading period would be particularly difficult and undertook a cost rationalisation programme to ensure the group was better prepared for the challenging economic outlook for the period under review and throughout the coming trading periods.  "The cost rationalisation programme was concluded at the end of our first quarter.     "The balance sheet and liquidity continues to be strong and this gives us confidence that we enter the second half of the financial year well equipped to deal with the short-term challenging economic conditions.  As the economic conditions improve over the medium term, we believe that Cambria is well placed to capitalise on improved growth in volumes, profitability and expansion opportunities."He said the important March and April trading periods were in line with theb previous year, and that the March new retail registrations showed some "signs of recovery."Cambria's new vehicle sales fell 9.8% year-on-year to 3,502 from 3,882 units in 2011; the private retail element reduced 3.4% against a market down 8% year-on-year.New vehicle gross profit reduced by £1.3m with margin reducing 0.6% as a result, Lavery said, of multiple pres-sures facing manufacturers.Used vehicle gross profit was up £0.3m, and a 0.8% point margin improvement to 9.5%, against unit sales down 4.5% year-on-year. Aftersales revenues reduced by 2%, with gross profits decreasing £0.4m. Lavery said the Vauxhall acquisition was the first of what he expects to be a developing rela-tionship with the manufacturer with new sites added "to make it a primary brand partnership".'As economic conditions improve Cambria is well placed to capitalise on improved growth'Source: AMI