Dealership group Pendragon named industry veteran Bill Berman as CEO as it seeks to overturn a cycle of growing losses that resulted in the resignation of its former CEO after just three months.
Berman, who was made Pendragon's interim executive chairman in October, faces having to navigate the UK company through a tough period for the car industry that has seen a string of profit warnings from Pendragon and its peers in the last year.
Shares of the company, which tumbled more than 40 percent last year, have recovered since October but continue to underperform their peers over the last 12 months. They have not seen yearly gains in the last five years.
"There is a lot to fix at Pendragon," said Liberum analyst Sanjay Vidyarthi. "The market backdrop is not helpful and the business is highly geared operationally and financially."
Pendragon is Europe's fourth-largest dealership group by revenue, according to Automotive News Europe's 2019 Guide to Europe's Biggest Dealers. It has 177 new-vehicle franchise points in the UK.
Pendragon said last month that its expectations of a full-year loss had not been tempered by a better second half after demand for cars suffered in the run-up to the UK general election in December.
In September, it scrapped its dividend after deep price cuts to offload used car inventory pushed it to a first-half loss.
Berman's appointment is the latest management shake-up in the beleaguered auto retail industry, which has seen rising labor costs, weaker demand and a squeeze on margins.
Lookers dealer group named Mark Raban as its CEO this month after profit warnings prompted its top bosses to leave. Meanwhile, Inchcape is searching for a new chief executive as Stefan Bomhard prepares to join Imperial Brands .
Berman, 53, former operating chief of U.S. dealer group AutoNation, has over 30 years of experience in the automotive retail sector. He left AutoNation abruptly in May 2017 after 20 years with the company and resigned as president of the company just three months in the role.
Berman, who had a brief stint with AutoCanada before joining Pendragon less than a year ago, said: "I look forward to building on strong relationships with our team members, customers, suppliers, our OEM partners and investors as we move forward together in a period of rapid change and innovation in the automotive retail sector."
The company, which operates the Evans Halshaw, Stratstone and Quickco brands, said Berman would continue in his role as interim chairman while it searches for a replacement.
"A long way to go, but this looks like a good appointment," Vidyarthi said.