US-based automotive dealership Group 1 Automotive Inc. has reported record earnings for 2001 driven by strong vehicle sales on the back of customer incentives. The group has raised its 2002 forecast.

The company said in a statement that ‘growth in all revenue categories and lower interest expense drove the record-setting performance for the quarter and for the year’.

Q4 revenues were up 24% on a year earlier and full year revenue was 11% up.

For the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2001, revenues grew 24% to $1.0 billion, from $841.1 million for the same period last year. New vehicle revenues rose 24% and unit sales increased 21%. Used vehicle revenues also expanded 24% with unit sales 29% higher. Parts and service and other dealership revenues increased significantly, growing 15% and 30%, respectively.

For the year 2001, revenues reached $4.0 billion, an 11% increase from $3.6 billion in 2000. New vehicle revenues grew 9% and unit sales increased 4%. Used vehicle revenues expanded 13% and unit sales rose 15%. Parts and service and other dealership revenues grew 18% and 25%, respectively, compared with 2000.

B.B. Hollingsworth Jr., Group 1’s chairman, president and chief executive officer said: “We are pleased with our continued progress and are encouraged with our future prospects. Low interest rates combined with manufacturers’ incentives and rebates, shorter, more innovative product cycles and affordability of vehicles continue to drive customers into our dealerships…”