August 7, 2018 / 7:38 AM / in 15 days

UPDATE 1-UK dealership Pendragon's profit slumps as car sales drop

(Adds details, CEO quote)

LONDON, Aug 7 (Reuters) - British car dealership chain Pendragon posted a 41 percent fall in underlying pre-tax profit on Tuesday after sales fell in Europe’s second-largest car market.

British new car registrations are down 5.5 percent this year, hit by a clampdown on diesel and uncertainty caused by Brexit, a trade industry body has said.

Demand was also especially strong in the first few months of last year ahead of an increase in vehicle excise duty, which came into force in April 2017, and helped pull forward sales.

“The first quarter of last year was a record ever in the history of sales in the UK so very strong comparisons. Also we lifted our used vehicle volume 20 percent in the first half,” Chief Executive Trevor Finn told Reuters.

Underlying pre-tax profit fell to 28.4 million pounds in the first six months of 2018.

Pendragon, which is focusing more on used vehicles and is selling its U.S. division after issuing a profit warning last year, said it expected it full-year profit to be roughly flat, in line with expectations, as sales recover.

The firm hopes to double used car revenue by 2021 in a market which is more than three times the size of new vehicle sales.

$1 = 0.7723 pounds Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Sarah Young and Jason Neely

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