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Lookers non-executive director Heather Jackson to step down at end of April

3 weeks ago

Lookers senior independent non-executive director Heather Jackson is to step down on April 30 after less than 18 months in the role.

The dealership group board made the announcement this morning (Apr 13) via the London Stock Exchange, saying she had been an integral part of its efforts to address its regulatory and accounting issues of the past two years.

Among the turbulence faced by the retailer, the previous chief executive and chief operating officer left abruptly, results were delayed, and a probe was held by the Financial Conduct Authority – it was eventually closed with no fine being imposed.

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Lookers appears to be experiencing a turnaround now, though, saying last week that its performance for the first quarter of 2021 was ahead of expectation.

As a result, analysts have revised their forecast, with a £34.8m profit being predicted this year by Peel Hunt – a leap of 47 per cent.

Jackson was appointed to the post on November 25, 2019, having been both chief information officer and chief operations officer at HBOS.

She will be focusing on other non-executive directorships plus business interests after her departure, said Lookers.

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As well as being a non-executive director of Skipton Building Society, Ikano Bank AB, JD Sports Fashion and Ditto AI, Jackson also co-founded change management company Actinista.

Heather Jackson is stepping down from her Lookers board role. Credit: Lookers

In addition, the 55-year-old is on Yorkshire Cancer Research’s advisory panel and is the co-chairperson of the Computacenter and DXC advisory board.

Lookers praised ‘her strong regulatory experience and counsel’, saying it had ‘been important in helping to reshape the development of the group’s regulatory control framework’.

Non-executive chairman Phil White said: ‘Heather has made a really significant contribution to Lookers over what has been a very challenging period for the company.

‘On behalf of the board, I would like to thank her for all she has done and we wish her all the best for the future.’

Lookers timeline: What’s happened when? 

Click on the date to read the full story

April 9, 2021 – Motor trade analysts upgrade their forecast for Lookers as share price jumps again

April 8, 2021 – Lookers reveals its performance for first quarter of 2021 was ahead of board expectations in unscheduled announcement to Stock Market.

March 18, 2021 – Lookers said it expects to make a profit before tax of around £10m for 2020 – up from £4.2m for 2019 as it reveals talks with banks are ‘progressing’.

March 15, 2021 – Lookers’ previous auditors Deloitte under investigation by Financial Reporting Council of its work on the group’s accounts in 2017 and 2018.

March 2, 2021 – FCA investigation closed and no fine imposed on Lookers. FCA expressed ‘concerns’ relating to ‘historic culture, systems and controls’, but said no further action would be taken.

January 29, 2021 – Lookers revealed it lost £36.1m in the first half of 2020. The interim results led to shares being relisted on London Stock Exchange. They immediately rose 77 per cent.

January 6, 2021 – Lookers appoints Anna Bielby as interim chief financial officer, but there was no news on the delayed interim results.

December 29, 2020 – A third of shareholders vote against Lookers directors’ remuneration packages – including CEO Mark Raban’s £450k salary – at a general meeting.

December 18, 2020 – Lookers tells investors that its interim results, promised to be delivered before the end of the year, will now not be published.

December 9, 2020– Lookers reveals interim CFO Jim Perrie has quit early and says it is ‘unlikely’ the interim results will be out before the end of the year.

November 25, 2020 – Lookers finally releases its annual accounts for 2019 showing a statutory loss for 2019 of £45.5m. Promises 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, brings forward the date he will leave the board to the end of December. No reason is 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 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 and 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 that in final stages of preparation ‘potentially fraudulent transactions’ in one division were discovered. Promises results in April.

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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.

John Bowman

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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