LONDON -- UK car dealer Pendragon will focus on selling more used vehicles after full-year profit slumped 20 percent as demand for new vehicles dropped sharply.
Underlying pretax profit at the group, which operates more than 220 outlets under brands including Stratstone and Evans Halshaw, dropped to 60.4 million pounds ($84 million) in 2017 as the UK's new-car market recorded its biggest drop since 2009.
Sales fell 5.7 percent to 2.54 million vehicles, the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in January as demand was stunted by the impact of Brexit on buyer confidence and continuing worries over possible restrictions on the future use of diesel cars.
UK registrations last month fell 6.3 percent to 163,615, a tenth consecutive month of decline in the market.
Having issued a profit warning in October, the company said in December that it would sell its U.S. motor division, hoping to raise more than 100 million pounds.
It now aims to focus on strengthening domestic operations in the second-hand market by investing in new technology, it said on Tuesday.
"The used-car market is over three times bigger than the new-car market," CEO Trevor Finn told Reuters.
"We're going for a 10 percent share of the market in 0-6-year-old cars. We know the number of vehicles ... is increasing in that space so we know the market for us is going to grow for the next two or three years."
The SMMT has said it expects demand for new cars to fall by up to 7 percent this year.
Pendragon is No. 2 on Automotive News Europe's 2017 Guide to Europe's Biggest Dealer Groups.
Automotive News Europe contributed to this report