The chief executive and chief operating officer of car dealership Lookers have left the company.

The company, which has a Volkswagen dealership at Rosehill Industrial Estate in Carlisle, already issued a profit warning in July and said trading since mid-September had been more challenging than expected.

Chief executive Andy Bruce, who has been with Lookers since 2000, taking the top seat in 2014, and chief operating officer Nigel McMill left with immediate effect and a search for their replacements is now under way.

Chairman Phil White said: "It is disappointing to report this downturn in trading, but we have taken action to drive the future financial performance of the group.

"The board is resolute in its determination to restore the group's fortunes with market leading practices in the sector."

Mr 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."

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

Management said it now expects underlying pre-tax profits to hit just £20 million this year, compared with £67.3 million in 2018.

Lookers blamed the poor performance at its 150 showrooms on ongoing weakness in consumer confidence in the light of political and economic uncertainty, pressure on used car margins and retail cost inflation.

It added that due to these ongoing challenges, the board has sped up the sell-off of non-core assets in the business to improve the company - although site closures are expected to cost £8 million this year.

In the three months to the end of September, like-for-like sales of new cars fell 3.2 per cent compared with a fall of 1.2 per cent in the first half year.

The used car market was more stable, with like-for-like unit sales up 2.6 per cent compared with a rise of two per cent for the first half year.

Lookers is also under investigation by the FCA over the way it sold car loans between January 1 2016 and June 13 this year. The company said it continues to fully support the FCA, but added we are unable to predict what, if any, impact the outcome of the investigation may have.