The chief executive of Central Motor Auctions resigned yesterday as the company warned that profits this year would be far below expectations.
CMA shares fell 10p to 58p on news that George Inch had left following boardroom disagreements and news that the car sales operations remained depressed.
Analysts had forecast that CMA, 10 per cent-owned by Michael Ashcroft's ADT car auctions group, would make profits of around pounds 750,000 this year and pounds 1.2m next.
But Brian Carter, group managing director, said poor market conditions meant the com- pany would not make much more than the pounds 205,000 interim profit reported in July.
He said the board felt it was time to consolidate after a period of expansion, but Mr Inch wanted to continue with the diversifications he introduced on joining CMA two years ago from NFC, the distribution group.
Mr Carter said: "There was a difference of opinion over his role at the company. Mr Inch did not see himself as a consolidator."
The terms of Mr Inch's contract meant there would be a pay-off, but Mr Carter did not disclose any figure. The company may not recruit another chief executive, preferring to continue with just a managing director at the helm. Mr Carter said he still planned to retire next April.
At the half-way stage, CMA reported a 16 per cent fall in the number of cars being offered for auction.
The company has diversified and expanded its electronic auction service, but the traditional operations still account for the bulk of business.