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Company Snapshot: Isaac Agnew Holdings Ltd

Mixed fortunes for car dealership

By John Simpson

Published 04/09/2012

Isaac Agnew Holdings was one of the largest vehicle retailing companies in Northern Ireland.

Early in January 2012 the trading business, excluding significant property assets which were transferred out of the group in 2011, was sold to the Sytner Group, a business registered in England and Wales.

The accounts of the group reflect the consolidated business of car dealerships on 14 different sites which hold the franchise for nine different vehicle manufacturers.

There are 10 subsidiary companies, six of which are 100%-owned by the parent company and four others with significant shareholdings.

Over a year ago, the holding company disposed of a 50% interest in Agnew Financial Services to Prestige Insurance Holdings and this business was then accounted for as a joint venture.

Turnover in the group nearly doubled in the five years from 2002 to 2007. The recent recession affected sales of vehicles and in 2008 and 2009 recorded turnover fell sharply by 8% and 12% in each year. A recovery took place in 2010 when sales increased by 7% but in 2011 there was a further 3% fall. Operating profits reached £7.3m in 2011. Operating profit in 2010 was adjusted for a writedown of £3.7m on the value of property in Titanic Quarter.

In 2011, some of the property owned by the group was transferred to three (now separated) companies and the transfer was linked to a dividend paid 'in specie' of nearly £19m.

Since 2007, pre-tax profits have moved roughly in parallel with (but slightly lower than) operating profits largely because of modest net interest payments.

Average employment was 819 in 2011.

The balance sheet value of shareholders' funds at the end of 2011 fell to £46.9m; £15m lower than in December 2010.

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