Paul Whitehead, the former CEO of struggling U.K.-based digital auto retailer Cazoo, has said he is “proud” of the company’s achievements even though it remains unprofitable and has had to rapidly shrink its operations in the face of huge losses.

Whitehead stepped down at the end of last month when Cazoo pivoted its business to a pure marketplace model.

He wrote on LinkedIn: “Five years ago it wasn’t possible to buy a used car entirely online in the UK. We set out to break the mould and create a new category for buying and selling a used car online, and we have sold 160,000 cars this way. The Cazoo brand and platform attracts one million customers a month, is firmly established and has led the category. We now plan to leverage all of this for the benefit of the automotive industry.”

While he admitted that the company “had made mistakes along the way,” he maintained that he was “proud of what we achieved.”

Whitehead will continue to work with Cazoo as an advisor to “support the transition to its new marketplace business model,” a process that the company has said will involve further job cuts.

The comments below his post suggest the majority of respondents didn’t agree with his analysis of Cazoo’s record. They criticised Cazoo’s sales conversion ratio and its purported arrogance, among many other things, with one commenter even suggesting Whitehead’s post actually came from a parody account.

Automotive investor Bruce Beaton wrote: “It’s been a disaster. Ego sponsorship, low margins, burning other people’s cash and disrespecting industry peers. Not a lot of talent on show.”

Frank McGrath, the owner of FMG Automotive in Cambridgeshire, said: “You failed to make any money selling cars remotely in a time when the country was in lockdown and conditions could not have been more perfect for you … To the people wishing you well and saying what a great job Cazoo have done … Do they know about the businesses you bought, mismanaged and closed leaving people without jobs?”

The company’s poor performance led it to shut its businesses in mainland Europe and sell sites it had only recently bought and make hundreds of redundancies as part of its realignment plan announced in June 2022 that aimed to save $250 million over 18 months.

Cazoo founder and former CEO Alex Chesterman left the company in December after it completed a number of restructuring transactions, including a convertible note exchange that reduced its total debt from $630 million U.S. to $200 million.

At the time of writing, Cazoo’s market capitalization stands at $51.4 million, down from a peak of $839 million in October 2020.


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