Friday 1 November 2019 10:00 am

Lookers shares slump as it warns profit will halve

Troubled car company Lookers gave the City a double-whammy of surprises this morning after revealing two senior departures and worse-than-expected profit forecasts.

Profits are expected to more than halve this year to roughly £20m, falling significantly below City estimates.

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The London-listed motor retail group, which is currently being investigated by the City’s watchdog, announced its chief executive Andy Bruce and chief operating officer Nigel McMinn are both stepping down from the board.

Shares in Lookers slumped 13.4 per cent to 43p in morning trading.

The shock exits come as the firm reported trading in new vehicles that was “below the board’s expectations”, with third-quarter sales tumbling 3.2 per cent year-on-year.

Chairman Phil White said: “It is disappointing to report this downturn in trading, but we have taken action to drive the future financial performance of the Group. The Board is resolute in its determination to restore the Group’s fortunes with market leading practices in the sector.”  

“I would like to thank both Andy and Nigel for their significant contributions to the Group since joining and wish them both well in the future.”

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The Financial Conduct Authority said in June that it was investigating the firm’s sales processes between January 2016 and June this year. 

Following discussions with the FCA in October, that investigation has now commenced and is in its initial planning and fact-finding phase, the group said today.

 The group said it was unable to predict “what, if any, impact the outcome of the investigation may have”.

Stricter emissions regulations, Brexit uncertainty and a customer shift towards electric and hybrid cars have dented the fortunes of firms like Lookers, which said that it “lost momentum as the month progressed and had a much weaker than expected finish”.

Like-for-like unit sales to retail customers declined by -11.5 per cent in the period.