European retailers were hit worst by the decline in European consumer confidence. The sector destroyed a massive 75.43 percent in value over the last three months of the year, according to the Automotive News Europe/PricewaterhouseCoopers Transaction Services Shareholder Value Index.
Retailers have shed 89 percent of their value since the beginning of 2008 as fears over the strength of the European car market grew. Over the past three years, they have lost 91 percent of their value.
UK car retailer Inchcape warned in December that its sales and profits in 2009 would slow at a greater pace than expected. In October, the firm lowered its 2008 profit target by about 20 percent and said that a decline in new-car sales had accelerated toward the end of the year.
The rapid and unprecedented decline in so many of the groups markets makes it difficult to forecast our results with a great degree of certainty, the firm said.
Pendragon drops further
The Russian market, once seen as the great hope for European carmakers in 2009, is forecast to decline as duty on new cars is introduced this year. The retailers return to shareholders fell 84 percent in the fourth quarter, bringing losses for 2008 to 93 percent.
UK retailer Pendragons return to shareholders declined 85 percent in the last three months of the year, according to ANE/PricewaterhouseCoopers Transaction Services Shareholder Value Index. That brings the decline for 2008 to 97 percent as the UKs largest car retailer struggles to cope with declining sales.
Worth around £11.5 million by the end of 2008, Pendragon paid £500 million in 2006 to buy one of its biggest rivals, Reg Vardy. The group has already laid-off staff and closed outlets in an effort to reduce costs.
The Dutch Stern Groep managed to contain the slide in its shareholder return better than retailers elsewhere in Europe. Even so, its plans to nearly double its annual new-car sales to 50,000 by 2010 from 26,500 in 2007 and boost its revenue to 1.8 billion euros now looks optimistic. The Amsterdam-based company had said in June that it was hoping to grow by increasing its market share in the Netherlands.