Duncan McPhee, Lookers chief operating officer, Apr 2022Duncan McPhee, Lookers chief operating officer, Apr 2022


Lookers chief operating officer Duncan McPhee quitting firm after three years in top role

  • Lookers COO is leaving the dealership chain
  • Duncan McPhee to step down after 15 years with company
  • High-profile departure follows that of CEO and CFO
  • Lookers was bought out last year and has struggled since

Time 9:30 am, April 3, 2024

Lookers chief operating officer Duncan McPhee is quitting the firm, it was announced this morning.

His last day in the senior position and with the company will be this coming Friday (Apr 5), Car Dealer has been told, with staff being informed earlier today of his decision to step down.

It follows the termination of the 47-year-old’s role as a director of subsidiary firm Lookers Ltd in February when the board was remodelled.

At the time, Car Dealer was told that McPhee had been removed as director of the subsidiary but was remaining as chief operating officer of the dealership chain.

Kuldeep Billan, executive chairman of Lookers, told staff today: ‘After more than 15 years at Lookers, Duncan McPhee has decided to step down from his role as chief operating officer.

‘Last year was a transformational period for Lookers, as we transitioned from being a listed company on the London Stock Exchange to private ownership.

‘Throughout this period of change, Duncan has played an important role and made a significant contribution. I am sure you will all join me in wishing him every success in the future.

‘From this date, our operations committee will report directly to Steve Kwak, our global chief operating officer, who many of you will already know.’

McPhee said: ‘After nearly 16 years at Lookers, it is amazing how far the business has progressed and I am proud to have been a part of it.

‘One of the many highlights has been working with a fantastic team of people. I wish my colleagues and the Lookers business every success in the future.’

He became COO of Lookers in January 2021, having joined the company in September 2008 as a general manager.

McPhee worked his way up through the ranks, becoming franchise director, divisional franchise director and chief retail operations director ahead of assuming the mantle of chief operating officer.

Before joining Lookers, he’d been with Arnold Clark for just over 10 years, starting as a sales executive and finishing as a general manager.

It’s the latest in a series of high-profile departures at Lookers, which has been facing troubles.

CEO Mark Raban left at the end of 2023 after just a few weeks’ notice, as did CFO Oliver Laird.

The dealer group was taken off the stock market last October after being bought out by Canadian outfit Global Auto Holdings in a £504.2m deal with funding from three Canadian banks.

But it has hit problems since, making a swathe of redundancies, with some 14.5% of the workforce at risk of losing their jobs.

Talks with financial institutions – including private equity firms and banks – are understood to have taken place as Lookers’ new owner looks to refinance the crippling 12-month loan that was used to buy the business.

‘The original loan from the three banks was on a one-year term and it was always going to have to be refinanced, but with the market dipping in the UK it looks like it’s proving harder to do than they thought,’ a source told Car Dealer in January.

‘That’s likely the reason for the major redundancies Lookers has announced already as it looks to save cash. The interest payments will be punishing to its bottom line.’

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.

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