UK-based car retailing group Inchcape plc has provided an upbeat third quarter trading update and is looking to expand further in high-growth emerging markets.

The firm says that its trading performance 'continues to be in line with expectations' and that total sales for the three months to 30 September 2007 were up 20.2% on a constant currency basis (19.8% in sterling terms).

The company said in a statement that it 'remains confident in our prospects for the full year'.

For the nine months to 30 September 2007, sales were up 27.5% on a constant currency basis (25.6% in sterling terms). Like for like sales for the three months to 30 September 2007 were up 3.3% and for the nine months to 30 September 2007 were up 3.1%, both on a constant currency basis.

A cornerstone of Inchcape's strategy is expansion into emerging markets.

The firm has recently announced two more retail centre acquisitions in St Petersburg, Russia totalling GBP21m.

It has acquired a 75.1% shareholding in the retail businesses of OOO Orgtekhstroy ("OTS"), an Audi retail business in St Petersburg, and OOO Concord ("Concord"), a Peugeot retail business, for a total cash consideration of US$43m (GBP21.6m) from its existing St Petersburg Joint Venture partner, Olimp Group.

In addition, the group announced the US$26m (GBP13m) relocation and expansion of its existing Toyota Rustavelli site and its intention to relocate the current Lexus retail centre to a new flagship Lexus site in St Petersburg.

André Lacroix, Group Chief Executive of Inchcape, commented:

"We are excited about this further expansion into the fast growing Russian market as well as the opportunity to work with brand partners Toyota, Lexus, Audi and Peugeot in St Petersburg. The acquisition and expansion provides us with a solid footprint to drive further consolidation as we take advantage of our strong local market understanding and management, our global OEM relationships and our unique global retail model for growth.

"I am particularly pleased that Inchcape is expanding with our existing partner Olimp Group. The partnership has proved extremely successful for both parties to date and we look forward to continuing the relationship.

"Our strong balance sheet has enabled us to invest in first class sites and facilities that gives us access to a strong and established infrastructure in a booming market and further strengthens our position as the leading international car retailer."

Earlier this year Inchcape announced the official opening of its first retail centre based in mainland China located in Shaoxing (140 miles from Shanghai). The centre is a retail outlet for the sales and servicing of Toyota cars.