The UK’s largest car dealer, Pendragon, has reported sharply lower profits of GBP11.4m (GBP21.1m last year) in the half year to June 2009 on turnover of GBP1.6bn (GBP2.5bn).

However, the firm put an upbeat interpretation on the performance.

Pendragon chief executive Trevor Chinn said he believes the UK car market has turned the corner after receiving a much-needed shot in the arm from the government’s scrappage scheme – which he would like to see extended when funding runs out.

The firm predicted an upturn in the second half.

Pendragon, which sells new and used vehicles, said the car market was still ‘challenging’ but noted it had made a significant turnaround from the loss incurred in the second half of last year, through cost cutting and the closure of non-viable dealerships.

Finn said the UK car market ‘seems to have stabilised’ and that he saw signs the ‘worst is behind us’.

Looking to the rest of 2009, Finn said the scrappage scheme would continue to help the new car market and that used car prices would remain strong, helping profitability.

See also: GOLDING’S TAKE: The bigger car retailers are, the harder they fall