ONE of Bolton’s main car sales companies has posted improved pre-tax profit figures - following a ‘challenging’ year’s trading.

But bosses at Bolton Car Centre (BCC), who run the town’s Citroen dealership, are concerned about the impact of a ‘no deal Brexit’ on sales.

If the UK crashes out of Europe without a trading arrangement, BCC’s management is worried, under World Trade Organisation rules, they would be hit with a 10 per cent levy on imported cars.

The board has cited advice from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Trades, which says dealerships may have to bump up the price of imported models by £1,500, in the event of ‘no deal’.

Company director Michael Holt, as part of BCC’s year-end report, said: “This could affect demand for new car sales, with selling price rises inevitable, although used car volumes may increase. On a more positive note, the UK goverment has stated that car parts imported from the EU would remain tariff free after a ‘no deal Brexit’.”

He told investors 2018 had been “another challenging year”, driven by a continued slowdown in new vehicle registrations and increased regulatory overheads.

New vehicle sales volumes dropped from 822 to 738 year-on-year, which has been blamed on a slowdown in consumer confidence.

Earlier this year the company also disposed of Suzuki franchises for Bolton and Blackburn and its Citroen site in Wigan, which Mr Holt says was in order to protect long-term profitability, so they could focus on money-generating locations.

The outfit also opened a new Hyundai garage in Bury which saw improved sales performance in the second and third quarters of the year. Pre-tax profits ended at £46,681 for 2018, up from £29,049.

Mr Holt added: “The key risks to the business in future financial years continues to be increasing competition and customer demand for the vehicles offered by our franchises, especially in the light of political uncertainty.

“Due to industry-wide changes towards hybrid and electric vehicles over the coming years, the risk of falling consumer demand is considered to be low.”