Palm Beach County-based used car retailer Off Lease Only has shut down its five Florida dealerships and laid off 466 employees after failing to find a buyer and filing for bankruptcy.
The closures include a dealership at 3230 14th St. W. in Bradenton. According to a letter to the state, 49 employees lost their jobs at that store.
Off Lease Only, which refers to itself online as “one of the highest volume used car dealerships in the U.S.,” filed for bankruptcy in Delaware on Sept. 7. According to the initial filing, it had $100 million to $500 million in assets and $100 million to $500 million in debts. Its creditor matrix, a spreadsheet of sorts detailing who it owes money to, runs 155 pages, each listing about 60 creditors.
The company was founded in 2004 and sold to the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management in 2019. According to its website it has sold 300,000 vehicles.
The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, which is not uncommon for retailers that eventually liquidate.
In a letter to the state and the localities where it had dealerships, the company blamed “unprecedented changes to the automotive retail landscape over the last few years (that) resulted in significant challenges and competitive pressures for independent used vehicle dealers.”
The letter was sent to meet federal Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification requirements.
Among the challenges it cites in the letter is a lack of access to inventory and higher inventory costs due to supply chain issues. Meanwhile, higher interest rates and prices eroded the retail automobile market, weakening demand and affordability.
In the letter, Off Lease Only says it tried to stay afloat by reaching out to its lenders and equity investors to assure it had the capital to continue its operations while trying to find a buyer.
While the company does not specifically say a buyer was found, it states that a deal may have been in place and fallen apart — leading to the decision to shutter operations and file for bankruptcy.
“Unfortunately, in a completely unforeseen and unforeseeable turn of events, the sale of the company’s assets has fallen through and there are no other additional financing options available to fund the ordinary course operations of the company for all locations,” writes chief human resources officer Rebecca Radosevich in the letter.
The layoffs and store closures occurred Sept. 7, the same day as the bankruptcy, and are permanent. The company did not say if employees were notified in advance.