Dealer group Pendragon has warned some of its showrooms may have to close if new cars sales don’t rebound later this year.
Bill Berman, who took over as chief executive in February, told the Mail on Sunday that the firm will let business ‘dictate’ which of its showrooms will reopen, as the industry learns to deal with a new normal that potentially involves fewer models on sale from manufacturers.
‘I think the pie is going to be smaller as we come out of this,’ he said.
‘There will be fewer cars sold. What we’re trying to do is use our existing physical footprint and digital capabilities to get a bigger slice of that smaller pie.’
The dealer group – which operates six brands including Stratstone, Evans Halshaw and Car Store – is opening 141 of its 173 showrooms today with strict social distancing in place and temperature checks for staff.
But Berman said that some its showrooms may not open if new car sales don’t pick up.
‘We’re going to let the business dictate how fast we open the stores and which get to open,’ he said.
‘Because of the economic damage from this pandemic and this changing model, not all stores will open. This isn’t a Pendragon statement, this is a general statement.
‘Our plan is ultimately to open all the stores, but if business is off by 30 per cent we may have to look at our current business model and footprint and adjust accordingly.’
Berman took on the role of CEO in February after the previous incumbent, Mark Herbert, quit in June 2019 after just three months in the position.
In May, the business announced a £2.3m loss in the first quarter of 2020.