Marshall Motor, the automotive retail group, expects its financial performance in 2017 to be ahead of its previously upgraded pre- and post-tax expectations. The company said in the second half it continued to build on the record financial performance reported during the first half and performed well against the background of a more challenging UK new vehicle market. The SMMT reported that the overall UK new car market in 2017 decreased by 5.7%, with retail sales declining by 6.8% and fleet sales declining by 4.7%. During H1, total UK new vehicle registrations to retail customers decreased by 4.8%. In H1 Marshall Motor outperformed the UK market reporting a marginal 0.4% decline in like-for-like unit sales to retail customers. In H2, the UK new vehicle market declined further with total new vehicle registrations to retail customers decreasing by 9.2%. Marshall Motor experienced some margin pressure on sales of new vehicles to retail customers and experienced a like-for-like decline in new unit sales to fleet customers following a commercial decision to withdraw from some low margin business. In H1, the group reported a 5.8% increase in like-for-like used unit sales. In H2, the group continued to perform well, supported by a disciplined stocking policy. The group's aftersales revenues remained stable with like-for-like revenue growth in H2 broadly consistent with the 2.3% growth reported in H1. At 30 June 2017, the group had total net debt of £101.1m. Following the disposal of Marshall Leasing Limited (MLL), this has been effectively eliminated with the group having a small net debt position at 31 December 2017. Daksh Gupta, chief executive officer, said: "I am delighted to report that the financial performance of the group during 2017 is expected to be ahead of our previously upgraded expectations despite the market backdrop. Following the disposal of MLL we are now focused exclusively on our motor retail business and our balance sheet has been further enhanced. We therefore approach 2018 from a position of increased financial strength and with the ongoing support of our brand partners."
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