Cox Automotive is laying off 80 staff in Canada and closing its Manheim Edmonton auction operation as it re-evaluates its Canadian footprint following the sale of much of its software business in the country late last year.

Matt Trapp, Cox’s regional vice-president for the eastern United States and Canada, said the company has spent the past few months assessing its long-term strategy for Canada, and changes in the local wholesale market mean Manheim Edmonton no longer fits Cox’s growth plan .

“It’s never easy when we make these decisions. … Unfortunately, Edmonton is not going to be a part of that plan going forward,” he told Automotive News Canada March 15.

The Edmonton location will cease most operations by the end of the month. Cox said the last public auction will take place March 25, and the final commercial physical sale March 30.

About 40 staff will be laid off in the Alberta capital because of the closure. Cox will maintain a “skeleton crew” of six in Western Canada to continue serving customers in the region.

“We still have a responsibility to our clients who are on the ground and clients who are operating in that area. And we still have our digital resources which we can provide to them,” Trapp said.

About 40 other Cox employees, mostly in support and sales roles, will be laid off across the company’s other Canadian offices in Vancouver, Milton, Ont., Saint-Eustache, Que., Moncton, NB, and Halifax as part of the move. Trapp said many of these additional job losses were tied to the company’s efforts to refocus on North America as a whole, as opposed to Canada and the United States as separate markets.

Staff were informed of the layoffs March 15.

AGGRESSIVE PLANS

The restructuring follows significant Cox divestitures in Canada late last year.
In November, the Atlanta-based company announced it would sell a series of its Canadian digital properties, including dealer.com, Kelley Blue Book, and several dealership-focused software brands to the Canadian division of Trader Corp.

Trapp took on oversight of the company’s remaining Canadian business in December, following the sale.
He said despite the Edmonton closure, Cox remains committed to its Canadian operations.

“We came in, we did our initial assessment, and we’re making these changes today to put ourselves on that path for growth.”

The company has “aggressive” plans to boost business at its flagship locations in the Toronto and Montreal areas, and is investing accordingly, Trapp added. Cox recently spent about $700,000 on physical and digital upgrades at the two facilities, the company said.

Following the layoffs, Cox will employ about 400 staff in Canada across its Manheim auction business, its NextGear financing arm, and its vAuto inventory management software business. The company said the changes in Canada will have no impact on its business or clients in other markets.