The gloomy prospects facing the UK car industry have been underlined by 2,000 new job losses and the worst May car sales since 1952.
Only 20,000 new cars were registered in May compared with 184,000 during the same month in 2019, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said. Just over half a million new cars have been sold in the first five months of 2020, compared with more than 1 million at the same point last year.
The car dealership chain Lookers said it plans to cut 1,500 jobs and close 12 dealerships just days after car showrooms were allowed to reopen in England, although they remain closed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The group, which operates 164 car dealerships, said the redundancies were needed to protect the long-term future of the business and it hopes to save £50m a year from the job cuts. It currently employs 8,100 staff and two thirds are on the government’s furlough scheme.
The firm will begin consultations on the redundancies shortly, which will reduce its workforce by almost 20%.
Warwickshire-based luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin Lagonda also announced 500 redundancies.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said the second month of the car industry shutdown had had a “devastating impact” on the market and described this week’s dealership reopenings as “a pivotal moment for the entire industry and the thousands of people whose jobs depend on it.” Car sales in April were down 97% on 2019 levels.
The new job losses come just days after McLaren announced it was axing 1,200 jobs.
The dealerships closing down at Lookers, which sells vehicles for large manufacturers including Toyota, Ford and Volkswagen, as well as luxury brands including Aston Martin, Bentley and Ferrari, are in addition to 15 closures announced in November 2019. It will be left with 136 outlets.
Lookers said it had taken orders for 2,865 new and used cars in the last fortnight – half the number of sales compared with the same period in…