Car dealership group Lookers has announced that Andy Bruce, chief executive officer, and Nigel McMinn, chief operating officer, will be stepping down from the board.

The announcement comes as Lookers reported a challenging Q3, with a 3.2% decline in like-for-like sales of new cars and a 11.5% decline in like-for-like sales to retail customers. Ongoing weakness in consumer confidence, pressure on used car margins and retail cost inflation were cited as reasons for the downturn in sales.

In reaction to the market challenges, Lookers said it has accelerated its portfolio consolidation to improve the future performance of the group. Some 15 dealerships have been identified for closure, while other sites face relocation or consolidation into nearby dealerships.

A statement from the company read: “The board believes that as well as driving financial efficiencies, this will facilitate an enhanced customer experience in line with the group’s strategy of partnering with the right brands in the right locations. With the exception of two dealerships all will be closed by 31 December 2019.”

Lookers also confirmed that the FCA’s investigation into the company has now commenced and is in its initial planning and fact-finding phase. In June this year, the regulator confirms it would be conducting an investigation into the firm’s legacy sales processes between the period 1 January 2016 and 12 June 2019.

Lookers said: “The group continues to fully support the FCA in its investigation but, at this stage, we are unable to predict what, if any, impact the outcome of the investigation may have.”

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Chairman Phil White has agreed to become executive chairman, while non-executive director Richard walker will assume a part-time executive role, until permanent successors have been appointed. Both Bruce and McMinn will remain at Lookers until 31 December.

Bruce said: “After nearly  two decades with Lookers, it is now time for me to move onto new ventures and allow new leadership to take the business into its next chapter.

“I am extremely proud of what we have achieved in building the group into one of the leading car retailers in the sector and I am confident that the talented people in the business will continue to take the business forwards. I wish them all the best for the future.”

McMinn added: “I have enjoyed helping to build the business at Lookers and working with a great team of people.”