Around 200 jobs are at risk at Charles Hurst dealerships across Northern Ireland as car sales continue to face a near wipe-out during lockdown.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said there had been just 144 new cars sold in the province in May, down from around 4,900 in May 2019.
Car dealers have been closed during lockdown but are permitted to reopen from Monday. The SMMT figures come as Charles Hurst's parent company Lookers plc announced around 1,500 jobs among its 8,100 staff around the UK were at risk of redundancy. The group revealed it will shut 12 sites - either by closure, merging with other showrooms or re-franchising.
The scale of cuts is likely to place around 200 of its 1,100 staff in 42 dealerships around Northern Ireland at risk.
However, Lookers would not confirm how many jobs here were in jeopardy, nor how many dealerships around Northern Ireland might be affected.
The moves will cut costs by about £50m per year, Lookers said.
Recently appointed chief executive Mark Raban said: "We have taken the decision to restructure the size of the group's dealership estate to position the business for a sustainable future, which regrettably means redundancy consultation with a number of our colleagues."
Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said that car showrooms had sold around 190 new cars a day during May last year. But he said that with 24 sold in April, far fewer had been sold in the last two months.
"Given how subdued demand currently is, job losses in the sector are inevitable."
He said dealers were looking forward to reopening on Monday: "In the months ahead we will see whether there is pent-up demand or whether consumer behaviours have changed. Both are likely to be true."