MEDFORD Lithia Motors, the eighth-largest U.S. auto group, announced in June that it would cut $18 million annually in costs because of falling consumer confidence, tight credit, high gas prices and sluggish domestic auto sales.
Among the cost-cutting measures, the Medford-based Lithia said it would restructure store management personnel and duties, reduce headcount across the company, further centralize offices by region, sell 10 to 15 of its stores, and postpone further acquisitions.
Since going public in 1994, the company, helmed by CEO Sid DeBoer, has been on a tear of acquisitions. In an April 2006 interview with Oregon Business, DeBoer predicted the company would hit 350 dealerships and $11 billion in revenue by 2014. “I don’t see anything handicapping us,” he said then. Lithia currently has 110 stores in 15 states and posted $3.22 billion in total revenue in 2007.
Three months ago, an internal investigation of Lithia found “a limited number” of its dealerships had incorrectly reported car sales to manufacturers as part of volume-based incentive programs.