LOOKERS has delayed the announcement of its latest results after uncovering ‘potentially fraudulent transactions’.
The results were due out at 7am today, but in an announcement to the London Stock Exchange, the dealer group said that during the final stages of preparing its results for the financial year ending December 31, 2019, the company had ‘identified potentially fraudulent transactions in one of its operating divisions’.
An external adviser is being appointed by the board to head a full investigation, and because of this the announcement of the results has been delayed until an as-yet-unspecified date in the second half of next month.
The statement added that the initial findings weren’t material in the context of the group.
This latest upset follows a relative return to calm for the multi-franchise company, with the appointment of Mark Raban as chief executive, after a turbulent year that saw previous chief executive Andy Bruce and chief operating officer Nigel McMinn leaving abruptly in November following two profit warnings, Lookers’ offices in Newcastle upon Tyne poised to close with the loss of some 60 jobs, and the ongoing inquiry by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) over the way it sold car loans between January 1, 2016 and June 13 last year.
The second of the two profit warnings saw Lookers’ top tiers revise their expectation for underlying pre-tax profits for the full year to hit just £20m, compared with £67.3m in 2018.
It was announced last June that the FCA would be carrying out an investigation into legacy sales processes at Lookers, and in a statement last November, the group said: ‘Following discussions with the FCA in October, that investigation has now commenced and is in its initial planning and fact-finding phase.’
The company said it continued to ‘fully support’ the FCA, but added ‘we are unable to predict what, if any, impact the outcome of the investigation may have’.