Troubled dealer group Lookers has appointed a new interim chief financial officer – but there is still no news on the groups’ interim results.
Anna Bielby has been appointed as a director and interim CFO with effect from yesterday.
Bielby is a trained chartered accountant with PwC where she worked for 14 years specialising in retail as an audit director.
She has previously held PLC roles with KCOM Group, a telecoms firm, in senior financial roles including CFO.
Lookers is in desperate need of a good CFO. It has consistently failed to deliver financial results and delayed its 2019 full year accounts many times last year.
Most recently, the group promised, and then failed to deliver, its interim results in December.
The dealer group – which placed third in our Car Dealer Top 100 list – had hoped the fact it had finally released its 2019 results and was on track to release the interims, would mean its shares could be relisted.
Trading in the company’s stock has been suspended since July when it missed key deadlines for its 2019 results.
The appointment comes off the back of a shareholder revolt at a general meeting when 29 per cent of shareholders voted against directors’ pay – including CEO Mark Raban’s £450k salary.
Lookers faced an ‘annus horribilis’ in 2020 with a series of issues that have dogged the car dealer group.
It has been forced to delay its results on a number of occasions as the board worked to unravel serious issues.
It uncovered an internal fraud that has been reported to police and is still awaiting the results of an FCA investigation into its practices that it has put £15m aside to deal with.
We discuss Lookers, as well as the other stories that shocked us the most in 2020, in the first Car Dealer podcast. You can find it by searching ‘Car Dealer Podcast’ on your preferred platform, including Spotify, or listen to it on Apple Podcasts here.
Lookers timeline: What’s happened when?
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2020 – Lookers tells investors that its interim results, promised to be delivered before the end of the year, will now not be published.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 reveal interim CFO Jim Perrie has quit early and say it is ‘unlikely’ the interim results would be out before the end of the year.
November 25, 2020 – Lookers finally release their annual accounts for 2019 showing a statutory loss for 2019 of £45.5m. Promise 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, bought forward the date he would leave the board to the end of December. No reason was 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 the 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, 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 in final stages of preparation ‘potentially fraudulent transactions’ in one division were discovered. Promises results in April.
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.