Jaguar Land Rover boss Rawdon Glover says the new Covid-19 restrictions – like masks for all car dealer staff – are ‘not good news’ for the motor industry.
However, despite the new measures announced by the government yesterday, he thinks his brands are well placed to take advantage of buyers looking to cheer themselves up with a new car.
Speaking exclusively to Car Dealer this morning, Glover explained that while the government’s announcements will change the way retailers do business, they’ll soon get used to them.
All car dealer staff will have to wear a mask in car dealerships from tomorrow or face £10k fines and the threat of closures.
Glover told us, in a video interview a clip of which you can watch above: ‘It is obviously not good news.
‘I remember some of the conversations with our investors just as the news landed that customers were going to have to wear masks in retailers – and we were a little bit concerned about that – but that hasn’t really had an impact or dented the momentum that was building.
‘I think the fact that retailer staff will need to wear masks is something we’ll look back on in two weeks time and it will have just become the norm.
‘Clearly a second wave is a threat – but whether we go to a full lockdown I suspect not, but we’ll have to wait and see how the numbers evolve and how the government responds.’
Glover said he was generally positive about the remainder of the year for sales in Jaguar Land Rover dealers.
He explained that dealers have been getting busier since opening in June and have had some very strong months of sales in new and used departments.
But he added: ‘It’s really tough to forecast.
‘For people in my job trying to forecast that level of demand, making sure we are not missing opportunities or being overly bullish, it’s a case of finding that right balance.
‘That’s crucial to everyone in the industry.
‘As we go into the next quarter I think we’re probably in the best shape we can be.
‘I am cautiously optimistic about the future, because in terms of how the pandemic is going to affect the economy as a whole I suspect, like everyone else, that there will be longer lasting economic impacts that will have some sort of impact on the industry, but I don’t think it will be broad brush.’
Premium to fare better
Glover actually thinks premium brands like Jaguar Land Rover could be well isolated from mounting job losses too as those affected by the cuts are unlikely to be JLR buyers.
He said: ‘While I don’t think the premium market will be completely impervious to any economic impact, I suspect it might fare a little bit better than the total industry.
‘If we look at the sectors that will be worst hit by Covid it will be particularly the under 25 groups, who traditionally are not a market we play in.
‘While from a social perspective it will be devastating, if I stand back and look at it commercially I actually think the premium market will hold up a little bit better than the rest of the industry and that, for us, is possibly a little bit of good news.’
Glover added that a lot of people still in work are saving money, enjoying low interest rates and can’t spend their cash on anything else.
‘They’re not spending it on holidays and we are currently seeing people invest in other things, such as cars,’ he added.
‘So there is a flip side that could give us some grains of positivity but, as always, it’s about trying to strike that balance of not getting ahead of ourselves.’