viewPendragon Group

Pendragon boss Herbert shown door after less than three months in charge

The car dealership chain warned on profits earlier this month and has been carrying out a review of the business strategy

car keys
Mark Herbert only started work as CEO on 1 April

Pendragon PLC (LON:PDG) chief executive Mark Herbert has been shown the door after the car dealer’s profit warning this month, after less than four months in the driving seat.

The London-listed group said internal operational difficulties as well as a challenging market meant it expected to be “significantly loss making” in its first half and report a “small loss” for the whole year.

READ: Pendragon profit warning sends shares crashing

On Thursday the owner of the Stratstone and Evans Halshaw dealership chains said Herbert, who only started work on 4 March and took the CEO role on 1 April, would hand over the keys with effect from 30 June, with two executive directors sharing control of the wheel until a permanent replacement is appointed.

Chief operating officer Martin Casha and new chief financial officer Mark Willis will report to chairman Chris Chambers on a day to day basis.

Herbert, who joined from conglomerate Jardine Matheson Group (LON:JAR), was appointed to replace Trevor Finn as he retired after 30 years with the company.

But Finn’s last few months in charge saw a succession of profit warnings attributed to external conditions such as new emissions standards and Brexit, with profit forecasts dropping from £47mln before tax in April to a £6.5mln loss.

Dealt a poor hand

Analysts at Liberum said earlier this month that Herbert and Willis had been dealt a “very poor hand” by the previous management team, which had built up used car stock at the end of 2018 and is now being cleared at a significant cost to margin.

Alongside this month’s profit warning, Herbert had said the company saw “significant potential for future profitable growth” and promised a review of the business and a strategy update in September.

As a result of his departure this review has been postponed until the appointment of a new CEO.

Said Chambers: “The board remains fully committed to realising the long-term strategy.  In the nearer term, despite challenging market conditions and the costly stock reduction programme, our focus will remain on taking steps to improve the performance of the business as outlined in our recent financial and operational review."

Pendragon shares were down 4% to 16.96p, levels not seen since 2012.

Quick facts: Pendragon Group

Price: 13.1 GBX

Market: LSE
Market Cap: £183 m

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