Luxury car salesman loses employment tribunal as claim against Sytner is thrown out

  • Sytner wins employment tribunal case against former sales manager
  • Kenneth Purdon resigned from Bentley Edinburgh in 2022 after questions about his performance
  • He claimed his departure had been a case of unfair constructive dismissal
  • Judge rejects application and says claimant made ‘bad buying decisions’

Time 11:55 am, June 24, 2024

A luxury car dealer who quit his job after question marks were raised about his performance has lost an employment tribunal against Sytner.

Kenneth Purdon resigned from his position as sales manager at Bentley Edinburgh in 2022 following a string of disagreements with bosses.

His performance had come under scrutiny following a succession of ‘bad buying decisions’ including an ‘inappropriate’ orange Benteyga, which took six months to shift, before being sold at a £13,500 loss.

The MailOnline reports that the claimant also bought a car with a bright yellow body and tried to sell another which had a ‘visible stone chip’ in the paintwork.

He was also accused of advertising vehicle which were dirty or poorly displayed, leading to a ‘heated’ meeting with franchise director Robert Berry in August 2022.

Purdon resigned shortly afterwards and later brought a claim of unfair constructive dismissal against Sytner.

Now, following a full hearing, the claim has been dismissed by employment judge Robert King.

The tribunal heard that Purdon joined the dealership as a sales executive in 2018 before being promoted to sales manager two years later.

The position entitled him to a basic salary of £32,500 plus benefits and things got off to a good start when the dealership won Bentley’s Retailer of the Year for pre-owned cars in 2021.

However, when the business failed to meet targets the following year, it was not long before the finger of blame began to be pointed at the Purdon.

The judge heard that when Berry told the sales manager that his performance was not up to scratch, the claimant merely ‘smirked’, leading to the boss becoming annoyed.

A general sales manager – Andy Canning – was later appointed by Sytner to act as a ‘second pair of eyes’ on transactions, amid concerns about Purdon’s judgement.

However, the claimant said there had been a ‘loss of trust and confidence’ and quit his job soon after.

‘The claimant made several mistakes’

In his submissions, Purdon claimed ‘all he had built up at Bentley Edinburgh had been taken from him’ and that Berry had threatened to ‘performance-manage him out of the door’.

After hearing all the evidence, judge King found that Berry had been ‘entitled’ to speak ‘robustly’ and rejected Purdon’s claims.

The judgment stated: ‘The claimant’s fundamental issue with the respondent was that he was managed at all.

‘Yet his opinion of his performance and his capabilities was not borne out by the objective evidence which showed that Bentley Edinburgh was underperforming in relation to the sale of used cars.

‘The claimant had made several mistakes. He had bought in part exchange a number of cars which he should have known would be difficult to sell and that the respondent had indeed struggled to sell.

‘He had failed to market cars properly on the respondent’s website. He had made mistakes in managing stock and preparing it to be sold. That was the context in which the decision to appoint Mr Canning as general sales manager had been made.’

It added: ‘It was clear from the evidence that Bentley Edinburgh had been significantly underperforming throughout 2022 in used car sales, for which the claimant was responsible.

‘It had failed to meet its own budgets and targets on used car sales, it was performing poorly relative to its previous year’s performance, and it was underperforming relative to the respondent’s other UK Bentley dealerships.

‘Despite his evidence to the contrary, there was clear objective that the claimant’s performance in relation to used car sales throughout 2022 was unacceptably poor in material respects. He had made poor buying decisions on cars that had become “issue cars” and had been sold at a loss.

‘He had made mistakes when marketing cars. He had overspent on commission payments to brokers. Those failures in his performance had materially affected the dealership’s performance on used car sales.

‘The respondent was entitled to take steps to manage the decline in his and the dealership’s performance.’

Since quitting his job, Purdon has been unable to find new employment and has been claiming universal credit.

The full ruling can be found here.

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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