Lookers chief executive Andy Bruce was the judges’ unanimous choice for Business Leader of the Year.
In 2016, the group followed its long-standing ambition of growing through acquisitions and continuing to offer excellent facilities while meeting the challenges posed by digital retailing.
August was a particularly busy time for the group, as it announced the purchase of Drayton Group for £55.4 million, bought with the proceeds of the sale of its parts business revealed five days earlier.
Before the month was out, Bruce announced the acquisition of West Midlands retailer Knights Group, filling a gap in its premium portfolio with the addition of the BMW and Mini franchises. Lookers now represents the largest selection of manufacturer brands in the UK.
Despite the complexity of the business, Bruce and his team continue to look for ways to improve performance through innovation and encouraging their staff.
Working patterns and pay models are under review and the continuous development of its website sees the company tackling the challenges of meeting consumers’ digital expectations and the need for modern showrooms.
Introduced two years ago, Lookers’ staff engagement scheme, NICER, is still central to people development and its requirement to maximise customer loyalty and satisfaction. As Bruce told AM recently: “It’s about empowerment and encouragement, making people feel good about themselves. I try to catch people doing things right as opposed to catching them doing wrong. We all perform much better when we’re not waiting for the next clip round the ear.”
This approach is clearly paying off. Lookers’ latest set of accounts reveals record turnover and profit.
And yet, as one of the judges said, Bruce is still approachable: “At Lookers, if you wanted a minute with the top man, you know you could get it.”
Santander Consumer Finance