‘We are at war. This is the third world war.’ Marshall Motor Group chief executive Daksh Gupta laid things bluntly on the line in a live interview today (Mar 27) with Car Dealer boss James Baggott as part of Car Dealer Live’s third show.
Marshall Motor Group has closed its sites and taken advantage of the government’s furlough scheme, but it has also taken a number of additional steps to help its staff during this difficult time.
Before the crisis began, Marshall Motor Group announced a stellar set of results with revenue of £2.3bn and a £33.1m operating profit.
Arguably one of the sharpest dealer bosses in the business, Gupta chatted to us about what has been the most bizarre week ever in the car industry, how he is looking after staff and what he sees as the opportunities that could come out of this crisis.
The group had been monitoring events abroad and began reacting in mid-February, putting out communications to staff as to what to do, follow NHS advice, etc.
Marshall decided to closed its dealerships before the government-ordered shutdown ‘because our people were worried’. This included concerns about schools shutting down.
The group has some 4,300 employees with 400 non-furloughed to support key workers across the country.
Its garages are helping keep essential vehicles on the move, including ambulance, fire and police.
‘People who are volunteering to do their bit are absolute heroes,’ said Gupta.
We’ll worry about sales on the other side; let’s just look after key workers now, he added.
Most manufacturers will be lenient over warranties, too, he reckoned.
Three-point mantra to give hope: stay safe (eg, social distancing), stay positive (don’t get into a negative spiral, take exercise), and stay Marshall (treat everybody well).
But what about the future? Gupta suspected that the current three-week nationwide shutdown could continue for up to 12 weeks, with the industry taking up to three years to recover. One problem facing the average dealer group is that one month’s cost equals one year’s profit.
The Car Dealer Live session is available now to watch. Just click on the play button at the top of this story.