“If you're making vehicles on the Continent and selling in the UK then at the start of 2008 Sterling was at €1.43 and now it's at €1.25. That equates to millions of Euros off the bottom line. We can't avoid the credit crunch,” said Hawes.

Hawes was unsure how the new van sales market would perform this year: “The past two years were really strong, particularly in the 2.3-3.5 tonne market, but I'm not convinced this will last. There are mixed messages.

“The housing industry is slowing. Internet shopping is growing but the 7.5t market is crashing due to a lack of drivers with licences able to drive over 3.5t.”

Commenting on the new Kangoo, which was launched in two sizes at the recent CV Show, he added: “With the introduction of the Kangoo and Kangoo Compact we're going to phase out the Clio van.

“It's cheaper to go for a bigger van even though the cost new is more. This is because small vans have poor residual values. The Kangoo Compact gets over that problem. “It's based on the Scenic so the safety and comfort is excellent and the load space will take a Euro pallet. We'll sell a ratio of 25 to 75 in favour of the larger Kangoo.”

Hawes refused to comment on exact volumes other than to say they would be higher than 2007's total which was 5,000.