Combined Motor Holdings (CMH) planned to continue the expansion of its dealer networks, but was also "on the lookout" for a local or international large-scale acquisition, the motor retailing group’s managing director, Jebb McIntosh, said.

Combined Motor Holdings (CMH) planned to continue the Combined Motor Holdings (CMH) planned to continue the expansion of its dealer networks, but was also "on the lookout" for a local or international large-scale acquisition, the motor retailing group’s managing director, Jebb McIntosh, said.

Releasing the company’s interim results to August, McIntosh confirmed the group would continue expanding, but was looking for larger opportunities.

The group abandoned a UK acquisition two years ago, when the sharp decline in the currency rendered the deal unrealistic. In the past year, CMH has invested nearly R30 m in expanding its network countrywide, including a Honda dealership in Menlyn, two Ford dealerships in Durban, a Delta dealership in Boksburg and a Peugeot dealership in Cape Town.

Despite "particularly tough" trading conditions over the past year, CMH’s income has increased, with turnover rising from R1,2 billion to R1,3 billion on a four per cent increase in operating income to R28,2 million. Headline earnings grew to R17 million, compared to R15,3 million last year.

Even with minimised vehicle price increases, due to the stronger rand, the high interest rates adversely affected new vehicle sales, especially in the luxury market segment where market share has fallen 18,5 per cent.

However, McIntosh said trading levels were now above those of the corresponding period and he expected the full-year results to reflect an improvement. Looking ahead, the recent interest rate cuts and the possibility of further cuts in the near future would positively affect trading levels, noted McIntosh.

Forward bookings in the car hire division and signs of improved levels of consumer confidence in the retail motor segment, with consumers who had been delaying the purchases of new cars now re-entering the market, suggested "a more buoyant environment".