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Redundancies at Williams Jack

South-east dealer group William Jacks has slipped into the red at the mid-year point and revealed it is cutting 10% of its workforce in a drive for savings.

The news comes as John Adair announces he will retire as chief executive in April 2006. Adair has held the post for the past nine years, and has been employed by the company since 1974. He will remain on the board as a non-executive director.

From April, the chief executive’s responsibilities will be split between Mike Dodds, managing director, and Andrew Dick, finance director.

The AIM-listed motor retailer, which has 17 dealerships including Jaguar (4), Land Rover (4) and Volvo (4), has suffered severe pressure on new and used car margins in the south-east.

Its six-months of trading to the end of July will show a loss of about £800,000.

William Jacks has exchanged contracts with a Channel Islands property fund for the sale and leaseback of its Volvo dealership in Brighton, which will raise £2.5m. Of this, £1.62m will be used to repay a bank loan with the rest invested in a new aftersales facility for its Sunningdale BMW dealership in Berkshire.

Ranked 48 in the June 2005 AM100, William Jacks relies on retail sales for almost two-thirds of its business, and has consequently suffered as consumer spending has declined (retail sales are down year-to-July by 9%).

Its management has determined a number of cost saving measures to be implemented this year. These include making 60 staff redundant, equating to 10% of the workforce. William Jacks expects this to produce annual savings of £1.5m.

“It is a very sensitive time, we don’t want to comment further,” says Adair.

In September 2003, William Jacks shifted its share capital from the Stock Exchange to the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in order to cut costs. AIM’s simplified administration and reporting requirements allow companies to reduce fees incurred on the Stock Exchange.

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