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Lookers denies rumours of job cuts and site closures

Lookers has denied reports that it is looking to make mass redundancies and close underperforming sites across its network.

A story in the Financial Times this morning claimed Lookers is considering disposing of underperforming sites and making redundancies.

However, David Dyson, financial director at Lookers told AM the company has no intentions of making mass jobs cuts.

The FT also said Lookers was unable to confidently predict its annual profits with confidence.

Dyson said: "At no point have we said that we would be making mass job cuts and we never said that we couldn't predict our annual profits.

"There are factors that are beyond our control that are affecting our business, like a 30% rise in the cost of fuel and the financial pressures that our customers are coming under at the moment.

"Until these issues are sorted out it’s a lot more difficult to predict where the business will be financially in six months. We expect to see figures that are no worse than last year."

Dyson said Lookers would have to look at underperforming sites within its network, but insisted there would be no kneejerk reactions concerning closure of sites.

Dyson said: "There’s a few things we did last year that we won’t be doing again. Acquiring a big business like Dutton Forshaw in November last year was a mistake as there’s no one buying cars so late in the year."

In its pre-close trading statement, Lookers said its franchised dealership division has been impacted by industry declines in like-for-like sales against its 2007 performance. It also said it has seen a decline in the market in Northern Ireland, where it trades as Charles Hurst.

However, Lookers reported a return to profit at its used car supermarkets, and stated that its independent parts distribution business, which includes FPS, has maintained a strong start to the year, despite the impact of increasing fuel prices.

Numis Securities, the investment bank, cut Lookers profit forecast by more than a fifth to £24.5 million.

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