THE prospect of a car distribution logjam that dogged brokers during March when Britain first went into lockdown, looks much less likely this time around.

Commencing 05 November 2020 and due to last until 02 December, the new lockdown will require dealerships to close.

Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the SMMT, said that it was vital for dealerships to remain open saying on the social media channel Twitter:

Nevertheless, it seems car showrooms will be closed, but deliveries and workshops will continue to operate as normal.

Making an announcement on LinkedIn (01 November 2020), Robert Forrester, CEO of Vertu Motors plc, laid out the principles under which the group would operate:

  • new car handovers would take place outside;
  • the retail staff would continue taking customer questions and making sales from within dealerships; and
  • the service and MOT departments would remain open on an appointment only basis.

Customers can still collect a car or van which has been purchased either online or via the telephone directly from our dealerships, though the handover will be outside so bring a coat… Home delivery options will also be available, and all handled in a Covid safe manner.

Robert Forrester, CEO, Vertu Motors plc

Daksh Gupta CEO of the Marshall group of retailers added on Twitter:

On Monday 02 November, the BVRLA said it had written to the CEOs of both the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) and the National Association of Motor Auctions (NAMA) offering the BVRLA’s full support for their efforts in keeping the wider automotive supply chain functioning as normally as possible.

In his letter, BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney acknowledged the role of vehicle dealerships, auction houses and their logistics functions in providing a vital service to BVRLA members, saying:

The UK economy is in a precarious position as businesses approach the busy pre-Christmas period while trying to prepare for a variety of EU-Exit scenarios. It is vital that our members and their customers can continue to rely on the services your members provide in delivering, collecting, maintaining and servicing their vehicles.

Gerry Keaney, CEO, BVRLA – excerpt from his letter to the CEOs of NFDA & NAMA

Editor’s take on the lockdown

The frustrations felt by car dealerships are clear. And our sympathies are with them. But for brokers it looks like the latest lockdown will simply mean business as usual, even if it means returning to homeworking. 

Leasing brokers have time and again shown themselves adept at adapting to challenging trading circumstances. And this time around looks no different, except there will be the benefit of experience from the first lockdown.

What’s less certain is whether demand for vehicles holds or the lockdown puts a dent in the sales momentum. But given how brokers have generally prospered this year despite the lockdown disruption, I’d go for the former scenario.

This story was updated on 03 November 2020 with the addition of the BVRLA commentary and letter to the NFDA and NAMA.

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