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Lookers to beat market view on UK car sales boom

LONDON (Reuters) - Lookers (LSE:LOOK) became the latest British car dealer to forecast better than expected 2013 profits on the back of resurgent car sales in its home market.

The firm, which owns the Lookers, Taggarts and Charles Hurst brands, on Wednesday said retail new car sales rose 19 percent in the last nine months and used car volumes rose 20 percent in the same period.

Rival dealers Pendragon (LSE:PDG) and Inchcape (LSE:INCH) have both forecast strong profit growth in recent days, benefitting from the continued rise in car sales in Britain, bucking the negative trend across much of continental Europe.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which represents Britain's auto industry, has forecast sales of more than 2.2 million cars this year, 8 percent higher than last year. Last month's 12.1 percent rise was the 19th straight month of increased sales.

Lookers said its aftersales business had increased year-on-year turnover and that its parts division had returned to growth.

The company's Chief Executive Peter Jones said its 2013 results would be "significantly ahead of current market expectations" and that "further recovery in the UK new car market provides a positive environment for further growth."

Prior to Wednesday's statement Lookers was expected to report an average 2013 pretax profit of 43.5 million pounds, according to Thomson Reuters data.

(Reporting by Rhys Jones; editing by James Davey)