Franchised dealer Will Blackshaw, managing director of Blackshaws, wasn’t mincing his words on today’s Car Dealer Live when he said ‘this is a matter of life and death’.
‘It’s been a whirlwind,’ he said. ‘I’ve got to admit, I was a bit too blasé about this all at the start. I kept thinking that it would never reach us in Alnwick.
‘Even when it was in London I was thinking it’s not going to come up here.’
Blackshaws has a new car franchises for Suzuki and Mitsubishi, and said both had offered brilliant support, with the former even nudging him to take action early on.
‘Suzuki were quick out the blocks. They were were prompting us. They were helping with getting bonus payments through and for us at the moment cash is the most important thing for business survival.’
He offered a genuine thank you to the manufacturers, if they were watching, saying both had pushed through bonuses early. ‘They’re businesses as well at the end of the day. Two very good partners,’ he said.
An emotional Blackshaw said that putting food on the table for his children and family was his priority but that he knew he couldn’t sacrifice staff in similar positions.
‘I was thinking ‘what do these people need at this time?’ We’ve got a duty to look after these guys as well.
‘I never thought we’d be closing the business. I kept telling the staff: ‘Blackshaws will not be closing’.’
For now though, the business is shut and staff have been put on furlough.
‘Our salesman are very loyal, it’s our opportunity to support them,’ he said.
‘It sounds a bit blunt but we are talking about life of death. People need food, charities are calling out for help. Yes, we’ve got to protect the business and make sure there’s one to get back to but we’ve got to look after these people.’
March still finished very well, according to Blackshaw, who added that they didn’t get pressure from manufacturer partners to take on more stock either.
‘We’ve got some new cars still to deliver, we just paused,’ he said. ‘Most of our customers have been very understanding.’
Blackshaw explained: ‘We’re helping people where we can. We’re completely shut but we are helping customers in need and we’re contactable if people need them.’
To watch the live interview, you can see it above and if you subscribe to our YouTube channel you’ll get a notification when we next go live.
You can watch all of our Car Dealer Live interviews by clicking here.