Lookers has delayed yet another set of results and revealed its interim chief financial officer Jim Perrie has quit.
In an announcement this morning, the troubled dealer group told the Stock Market that the interim results it had promised to release in December will probably not appear this year.
It was hoped that shares in the group – which were suspended in July – would be relisted following the publication of the interims this month.
However, that will now not be possible. Lookers said it would be ‘unlikely’ the interims would be finalised before the end of this calendar year.
The news is yet another blow to shareholders and the embattled dealer group which has consistently delayed results this year.
Lookers has been engulfed by an internal fraud investigation that has now been reported to police and an FCA investigation into its practices.
Lookers said interim CFO Perrie had stepped down ‘following the publication of the 2019 Annual Report and Accounts’ and it will now begin the search for a replacement.
It means the group has been without a full time appointed CFO for around a year.
Lookers also announced it has appointed Robin Churchouse as an independent non-executive. He replaces Stuart Counsell who agreed to remain on the board until the 2019 accounts were released.
Churchouse has 30 years’ experience in financial services and was CFO for Yorkshire Building Society.
Phil White, Lookers chairman, said: ‘Robin’s experience, particularly as a CFO in a large regulated financial services business will be invaluable to Lookers as we continue to develop the business and its future strategy.’
The delay to yet another set of results for Lookers will not be seen as anything other than another huge set-back, though.
The company delayed its annual results for 2019 four times this year and that eventually led to the shares in the company being suspended.
Shareholders were hoping – as promised – the interims would be published this month and finally see the company’s shares traded again.
No information was given as to why there was yet another delay.
Lookers revealed at the end of last month that it made a statutory loss of £45.5m in 2019, compared to a profit on the same basis of £41.9m the year before.
It also said a cash expenses fraud in a single division of the company resulted in a loss of £327,000 which had been accumulated over several years.
Lookers said this was ‘perpetrated by one individual’ and he is now the subject of a criminal investigation. The perpetrator has not been named and Car Dealer’s investigations with police forces have not revealed the individual’s name.
The FCA investigation into the group is also still on-going.
Lookers says it is ‘cooperating fully’ with the regulator and has made a £10.4m provision against any fine that may arise as well as a cost of £4.7m.
Lookers timeline: What’s happened when?
November 25, 2020 – Lookers finally release their annual accounts for 2019 showing a statutory loss for 2019 of £45.5m. Promise interim results in December and the hopeful reinstatement of shares on Stock Market.
October 31, 2020 – Long standing Lookers non executive director Tony Bramall, one of the group’s major investors, bought forward the date he would leave the board to the end of December. No reason was given for his early departure.
October 19, 2020 – Lookers updates market on performance in Q3, but still no word on its 2019 accounts or the FCA investigation. Analysts expect results to be out before December.
August 20, 2020 – Accounts delayed for the fourth time and no promise given as to when they’ll be published.
June 9, 2020 – Lookers says it will suspend shares on July 1. Delays accounts for third time and says they’ll be published ‘no later than the end of August 2020’.
June 5, 2020 – Lookers says it will axe 12 dealerships, cut 1,500 jobs.
May 2020 – Pendragon CEO Bill Berman admits he wrote to Lookers to discuss a merger and updates Stock Market to that effect. Move described as ‘two drunk men bumping into each other in a bar’.
April 2020 – Fraud investigation deepens. £4m charge revealed and firm says there could be more. Delays accounts to June.
March 12, 2020 – New chief operating officer Cameron Wade leaves role after only a month in post
March 11, 2020 – Lookers delays results saying in final stages of preparation ‘potentially fraudulent transactions’ in one division were discovered. Promises results in April.
November 2019 – Chief executive Andy Bruce and chief operating officer Nigel McMinn leave firm abruptly
June 2019 – FCA launches review into sales processes at Lookers between January 2016 and June 2019. Lookers cannot ‘estimate what effect, if any, the outcome of the investigation may have’.
December 2018 – Lookers launches independent internal audit into sales process. It eventually finds ‘control issues’ in sales process where ‘improvements’ are needed. Findings handed to FCA.