As PM mulls second national lockdown car dealer bosses say they are prepared

Time 7:22 am, October 31, 2020

Car dealer bosses believe their businesses are ready if the prime minister actions a second national lockdown.

Pressure is mounting on Boris Johnson to take decisive action with scientists calling for a second national lockdown in England.

On Saturday, newspapers reported that a second lockdown could be implemented as soon as next week which would force non-essential retail to shut – but keep schools open.

Car dealers have reported that they are now in a better position to deal with a second lockdown if one comes.

Neil McCue, chief operating officer of Snows Group told Car Dealer: ‘A second lockdown is coming in my opinion.

‘I think a national lockdown that we get plenty of notice for and can plan for properly could happen.’

McCue said businesses would need support again and the Job Support Scheme – which replaces furlough this week – might not be enough if dealerships are forced to close.

‘We are better prepared for a lockdown if one comes but we need notice – people need time to plan for it,’ he added.

’The worst thing that could happen would be one that is rushed through without any notice.’

Scientists say the second wave of Covid-19 is in a ‘critical stage’ in England, and a second lockdown is the only way to kerb rising infection and death rates.

If the government does bow to pressure from scientists for a second lockdown – and that now looks increasingly likely – car dealers bosses say they have learnt from the first and can navigate through it.

Marshall Motor Group CEO Daksh Gupta told a recent CarGurus webinar, chaired by Car Dealer founder James Baggott: ‘We are 100 per cent ready.

‘We had been expecting a two-week national lockdown in the second week of October – clearly that didn’t come.

‘Every time the prime minister was on we were expecting the lockdown to be on.

‘We’ve got the plans in place, the virtual teams set up, we know the sites we are going to keep open for aftersales and we know what resource we’re going to do – so we’re ready to go.

‘It has been a difficult situation for every company to manage through because there are no rules for managing a situation like this.

‘I think we all know what we need to do and I’m confident that we are ready.’

Marshall Motor Group knows which dealers it will keep open for aftersales if a second lockdown occurs

Clare Wright, group HR director at Jardine Motors Group, believes it’s a question of how long a potential second lockdown would go on for, but said Jardine is ready.

‘During the three months we were shut down we had to do a big reorganisation which was difficult but we were losing so much money,’ she said.

‘What we’re able to understand now is how we mobilise our operations better to mitigate the losses, but if consumer confidence goes and people don’t want to transact, then that’s a different set of circumstances.’

She said that Jardine is more ‘confident’ that it can operate ‘more productively’ because of the new ways of working it has implemented since the first lockdown.

Alex Jones, head of marketing and digital at Carbase, said: ‘We are massively better prepared than we were in March – it’s as simple as having everyone set up with their systems.

‘The first time we locked down we had spent some time looking at disaster recovery, but it was planning for individual sites – it wasn’t planning for everything closing. With the technologies we’ve got, there’s a lot more we’ve got in place.

‘The big question is whether the second lockdown looks like the first full lockdown – almost certainly we would be happy to do home delivery from the start, whereas when we first locked down in March there was a lot of confusion in the industry whether this was allowed or not.’

However, Vertu Motors CEO Robert Forrester has told of his concerns of other health care outcomes, the nation’s mental health and said economic activity is under ‘massive pressure’ because of the government’s ‘unbalanced’ policy in the fight against Covid-19.

For that reason Forrester is backing a new project that calls for a more balanced approach to coronavirus rather than locking down the country.

‘Immense pressure has been placed on UK society in 2020 by the lockdown actions of government in response to Covid 19,’ he said in a LinkedIn post.

‘Many of us backed the actions in March giving the government and experts the benefit of the doubt.

We need to open minds to another more balanced approach rather than lockdowns

‘Over time I have been increasingly concerned that the policy is very unbalanced indeed. Non-virus health outcomes, #mentalhealthmatters and economic activity have all come under massive pressure and the pressure continues today.

‘People are fearful and are presented with little in the way of hope by our leaders.

‘In recent weeks I have been involved in supporting a new group across Britain who feel we need to open minds to another more balanced approach rather than lockdowns.

‘We need a policy which provides for the future and takes into account more than one single objective. That organisation launches tomorrow and can be found at It is supported by eminent scientists, people from the arts, health and business.

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‘It is not about conspiracy theories. Not everyone will agree with this post, but I know a significant number will.

‘The future for our families and the country is too important to remain silent.’

First published: October 29, 09:05; Updated: October 31, 07:22

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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