Dealers in Leicester have expressed confusion as to whether the lockdown will mean their businesses will be closing from today, with one major dealer group saying it will have ‘little to no effect’ going forwards.
Leicester is the first city in the UK to reinstate lockdown, with all non-essential shops being told they have to shut from 5pm today.
People are also being advised to stay at home as much as they can and only go out for all but the most essential travel.
Business including bars, restaurants and hairdressers will not re-open in-line with the rest of England on July 4, while schools will close on July 2, expect to children of key workers or vulnerable children.
But dealers in the city and surrounding area haven’t been told for definite whether the lockdown will apply to them.
One used car dealer, who wished to remain anonymous, said the blanket ‘non-essential’ rule is confusing.
He said: ‘When non-essential businesses were allowed to reopen on June 15, dealerships had already been open since June 1 – so does that mean we are now part of all other non-essential businesses? We haven’t been told.’
Another told Car Dealer Magazine of having ‘no clarification’ from the local council and ‘presumed’ the lockdown applies to car dealers.
Consequently, they are spending today (June 30) rearranging customer deliveries and will close at 5pm unless they’re told otherwise.
Car Dealer Magazine spoke to a number of dealers who all expressed similar concerns over there being no clarification and intended to close regardless.
Lifting of the lockdown will be at least two weeks away after a government review.
Despite showrooms potentially being shut for half of July, one large dealer group has said it is ready to adapt to a ‘new normal’.
‘The lockdown in Leicester will have little to no affect to our business,’ Pendragon CEO Bill Berman told Car Dealer Magazine.
‘As far as the potential for lockdowns that may/will affect our stores going forward, this is going to be part of the new normal for the foreseeable future.
‘I feel we have implemented strong process in our stores to protect both our associates and customers and will continue to do so.’
Berman added: ‘If there is a lockdown in an area that affects our stores, we will adjust our business accordingly and will continue to support and protect both our customers as well as our associates.
‘The team spent the last several months innovating and developing systems and process that will help us continue to operate at a high level whether we are opened fully, socially distanced or even through a regional lockdown.’
But motor trade legal firm Lawgistics believes car dealers can remain open and don’t need to close today.
Lawgistics Solicitor, Nona Bowkis, said: ‘As has become customary this decision has been made without full guidance being issued. However, according to the gov.uk website it is only shops that were allowed to open on the June 15 which will have to close again.
‘As dealerships were allowed to open prior to June 15, it currently appears the car dealers can remain open.’
That’s the approach Sandicliffe is taking. The dealer group has six showrooms in the Leicester area and intends to remain open, believing that the business which need to shut are the ones that reopened on June 15 – and that doesn’t include car showrooms.
Paul Woodhouse, Sandicliffe managing director, said: ‘We have taken the view that we are exempt and decided to remain fully operational until we get further guidance.’
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