Lookers sales teams claim their working hours are being changed to make up for ‘staff shortages caused by redundancies’.
Sales teams at the troubled car dealer group say they’ve been told they will ‘no longer get weekends off’ and will be required to work longer hours.
Sources within several Lookers car dealerships have said managers have told them that they will now get a day off in the week and will have to work every other Sunday instead of getting whole weekends off to spend time with their families.
It comes at odds with a growing trend in the motor trade to close dealerships on Sundays to give staff a rest. This week, Sherwoods was the latest group to announce the move.
‘As soon as they mentioned this I know of large numbers of sales staff who instantly handed their notices in,’ said one source.
‘Perhaps that’s what they wanted.’
Some 14.5% of the Lookers workforce is currently at threat of redundancy following the group being taken private in a £504.2m deal by Canadian firm Global Auto Holdings.
Other sources at Lookers said they had also been told their dealerships will be opening longer hours ‘to match those in Canada’.
Lookers’ Land Rover dealership in Battersea currently opens 9am-6pm whereas Elite BMW in Ottwa, operated by the Canadian buyers, opens at 7.30am and closes at 8pm.
‘We’ve been told we’ll be operating longer opening hours like the Canadians do,’ said a salesperson.
‘The rumours are that will be later in the evening which has not gone down well.
‘Staff are distraught at the moment with the way they have been treated during this redundancy process and now even those who kept their jobs are thinking about going.’
Lookers did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the claims.
Sales team sources at Lookers said the news has gone down so badly that management have decided to put any decision on hold until the end of Q1.
A source added: ‘The news resulted in a large number of resignations almost immediately and it’s believed, though there’s no proof, that this was a way of saving on redundancy payouts, because within a week of the announcement it was revoked with managers stating that the negative feedback received from the announcement shows that sites don’t understand the business needs and the change will be put on hold until end of Q1, where it will be reviewed.’
Lookers is losing nearly 1,000 staff from head office and in its dealerships. Former CEO Mark Raban left the business at the end of December with just a few weeks’ notice as did CFO Oliver Laird.
Staff recently lashed out at the way the company was handling the process, with some claiming the firm is ‘cutting corners’. Lookers denied the claims and said it was doing it all it could to handle the ‘difficult situation’ sensitively.
Questions have also been asked over how much the new owners knew of the cuts it was going to have to make before the purchase. No mention was made of the widespread redundancies in pre-sale documentation which may fall foul of Takeover Panel rules.
Following Car Dealer’s story about the concerns, which was published on December 18, Global Auto Holdings made a statement to the London Stock Exchange on the Friday before Christmas (Dec 22).
It was an ‘update to stated post-offer intention statements’ and admitted that following a ‘strategic review’ a redundancy programme was actually now required.