Troubled Lookers clears out board as White takes over

Troubled Altrincham-based car dealership Lookers plc on Wednesday announced big changes to its board “in order to refresh and strengthen … for the long-term future of the business, under the leadership of Mark Raban as chief executive officer.”

However, Lookers added: “At the request of the board, (current chairman) Phil White will assume the role of executive chairman with effect from 1 July 2020 to oversee this transitional period.”

Lookers shares fell about 8% to around 21p to give the firm a current stock market value of around £85 million. Lookers’ shares have fallen about 70% over the past 12 months.

On June 8, Lookers said it would delay publishing its 2019 financial results for the third time and warned it expects trading in its stock to be temporarily suspended if it fails to publish accounts by June 30.

On June 4, Lookers announced plans to cut 1,500 jobs and close 12 more sites and said a previously disclosed investigation by Grant Thornton into “potentially fraudulent transactions” in its operating divisions was nearing completion.

On Wednesday, White said: “The group has faced many significant issues in the recent past, both externally and internally, which have been exacerbated by Covid-19.

“As a board, we have had to take many difficult decisions and it has been critical to be able to draw on the experience of all the members of the board and to have had consistency during this challenging period.

“The board recognises the need to bring in new skills and experience to guide the business through the next phase of its development.

“With our dealerships reopened, we believe now is the time to put in place plans for the future of Lookers.

“As a result, we have agreed an orderly transition to refresh the board over the coming months.”

The sweeping board changes are as follows:

Richard Walker, senior independent director and Sally Cabrini, non-executive director and chair of the remuneration committee, have confirmed that they will not stand for re-election at the AGM on 29 June 2020.

Stuart Counsell, non-executive director and chair of the audit and risk committee has agreed to remain on the board until the completion of the 2019 results and the appointment of his successor.

Tony Bramall, non-executive director, has indicated he will not stand for re-election at the 2021 AGM.

Heather Jackson, non-executive director, will with effect from 1 July 2020 act as senior independent director and become chair of the remuneration committee on completion of the 2019 results.

Vicky Mitchell, non-executive director, will assume the role of chair of Lookers Motor Group Limited, the FCA regulated entity, with effect from 1 July 2020, subject to regulatory approval.

A search is underway for a new non-executive chairman and two new non-executive directors, one of whom will fill the role of chair of the audit and risk committee.