Car dealer group Lookers is preparing to make hundreds of employees redundant after delisting from the London Stock Exchange.
Numerous sources from inside the firm have told Car Dealer that workers were informed earlier this week that they could face being laid off.
According to insiders, the news comes despite previous assurances that there would be no job losses following the recent takeover of Lookers by Global Auto Holdings – the bidding vehicle of Canadian firm Alpha Auto Group.
The Car Dealer Top 100 outfit now says it could now make around 200 members of staff redundant across its entire business.
Bosses say the majority of job losses relate to Lookers no longer being a PLC following the takeover.
An employee at the firm’s head office says that staff there were informed on Monday that jobs will be lost – less than three weeks before Christmas.
The source labelled the situation a ‘disgrace’ that had ‘left a very bitter taste for all employees’.
They told Car Dealer: ‘I currently work for Lookers in their head office and want to let you know about some very poorly timed internal redundancies announced on Monday this week.
‘I don’t believe that details have been released publicly, but up to 75 per cent of all head office staff have been put “at risk” or have been made redundant, including in IT, L&D, Procurement, Project Management etc.
‘Following the recent purchase of Lookers, we were told that there wouldn’t be any changes, but to announce these redundancies three weeks before Christmas is absolutely disgusting and left a very bitter taste for all employees.’
Lookers says that around three per cent of its 6,500-man workforce will be made redundant as a result of the firm pulling out of the stock market.
It says that ‘a certain number of corporate and support roles’ are likely to be affected.
A spokesperson for Lookers said: ‘Unfortunately, now that Lookers is no longer listed on the London Stock Exchange, a certain number of corporate and support roles that relate to its status as a listed company may be affected by this proposed programme.
‘In keeping with normal practice, we have notified those employees who are affected via a formal letter, explaining that we have now entered the formal consultation period with employee representatives as a next step.’
Yesterday (Dec 6), we reported that Lookers’ CEO Mark Raban has told staff he will be stepping down at the end of the year.
In a memo sent to employees on Tuesday, and leaked to Car Dealer, Raban said he will be moving on from Lookers ‘effective December 31’.
The memo said: ‘I would like to share with you all some personal news. After nearly five exciting years with the company, I will be moving on from Lookers effective December 31st.
‘The time I have spent with you all is amongst the most memorable of my career. We have achieved so many great things and you should all be very proud of the recovery we made from our challenges in 2019/20 and the pandemic. We have a great business with many talented colleagues.
‘Lookers has been in business for over 100 years and I am very excited about the next chapter under Kuldeep’s stewardship which I know will cement our position as a market leader.
‘In closing, a massive thank you to all my colleagues who have supported me on this journey. It’s been a real privilege. Keep focused on supporting one another and our customers.’
How the Lookers takeover unfolded
Lookers was taken private in a 130p per share deal this summer which saw the firm leave the stock market on October 9.
Global Auto Holdings had originally offered 120p a share but that was rejected by the largest shareholder Cinch.
Global then came back with an offer of 130p a share, valuing the dealership chain at £504.2m, which Cinch agreed to.
As the biggest investor, with some 19.5 per cent of Lookers’ shareholding, its backing of the new offer was seen as vital to the takeover happening. Cinch has since increased its investment in car dealer group Vertu.
Raban’s departure will mean the dealer group will now have to begin the search for a new CEO.