October 24, 2013 / 7:05 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Inchcape sales rise on strong demand for premium cars

LONDON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Multinational car dealer Inchcape reported a 7 percent rise in third quarter sales on the back of robust demand for premium and luxury vehicles.

The firm, which sells and distributes cars for manufacturers such as Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and BMW in 26 countries, on Thursday said revenues rose to 1.63 billion pounds ($2.64 billion) in the three months to the end of September.

Inchcape, which reported a 13.4 percent rise in UK sales during the quarter, said demand for new cars was ahead of last year, especially in the premium and luxury segments.

Luxury carmakers Jaguar, owned by India's Tata Motors , and VW's Bentley, have seen strong growth in 2013, particularly is North America and Asia.

New car sales in Britain soared to their highest level in more than five years last month, lifted by a brighter outlook for the economy, attractive financing deals and demand for new fuel-efficient models.

Inchcape said its performance had been "solid" in the European car market, which looks to be improving after it crashed to record lows in August. Industry association ACEA said new car registrations in the European Union climbed 5.4 percent last month, only the third monthly gain in the past two years.

The car dealer, which said it was also making gains in South America, Africa, China and most of Eastern Europe, expects to deliver a "robust" financial performance in the full-year.

"We operate in the right markets, with the right brands and in the right categories given our international footprint, our focus on premium and luxury brands and our diversified profit streams," said Inchcape's Chief Executive André Lacroix.

Revenue for the first nine months of the year was up 6.7 percent to 4.94 billion pounds, it said.

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