Vertu Motors has been running with ten per cent vacancies since March, says boss Robert Forrester

  • Vertu Motors boss says firm has had 500 vacancies since end of last lockdown in March
  • CEO Robert Forrester says dealer group is increasing pay and taking on more apprentices
  • Undercover Big Boss star also says ‘every business in Britain are struggling to find people’

Time 1 month ago

Vertu Motors boss Robert Forrester says the company has been working with ten per cent vacancies across its business as a result of ongoing labour shortages.

The Undercover Big Boss star says that the ‘tightening of the labour market’ has been the biggest issue faced by the dealer group since the end of the last lockdown in March.

As a result, the firm is currently operating with around 500 vacancies at a time when the used car market is booming like never before.

The figure equates to just under a tenth of the firm’s workforce with the price of labour currently rising considerably as a result of the shortage.

Speaking to controversial news channel GB News, Forrester said that staff would receive £9.5m in increased pay by December 1.

That follows the recent move to enhance pay for all highly-skilled technicians who work on and repair cars.

Vertu is also planning to take on another 120 apprentices from March 1, 2022 as it bids to drive up its working numbers.

Forrester, CEO of Vertu, said: ‘The biggest issue our business has faced since coming out of lockdown three is the tightening of the labour market.

‘We have been running with 500 vacancies since March. That’s not far off ten per cent (of the company’s workforce).

‘There is a shortage of labour, full stop. You know what happens in markets when there’s a shortage? The price goes up.

‘We announced to our shareholders last week that we were doing two things.

‘There will be £9.5m increased pay by December 1 – we’ve already done our highly skilled technicians who mend and repair the cars – and we’re going to take another 120 apprentices on from March 1.

‘That’s a total of £12m in additional cost but I can’t run a business with ten per cent vacancies.’

He added: ‘Pretty much every job role – and this isn’t just our business but every business in Britain – are struggling to find people.’

In a wide ranging chat on GB News’ Money Talks show, Forrester also addressed the future of EVs.

He told host Liam Halligan that he expects the government to meet its target of banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

He also predicted a boom in sales of electric vans over the coming years, adding that they are likely to meet the target before cars do.

Despite his optimism, Forrester did offer a note of caution when it comes to EVs by highlighting that the infrastructure needs to be right for electric cars and vans to be successful.

Addressing the state of the industry, the 52-year-old said things have changed in the last five years and that the internet now has a huge role to play.

He said: ‘You can’t sell from a forecourt without selling on the internet.

‘I would say it has changed in the last five years in so far as I don’t think anybody now visits a dealership without having been online first.

‘You have the ability to buy a car completely online but for every enquiry online, 0.8 per cent actually buy purely online.

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‘We have a 30 per cent conversion ratio on normal sales but the online itself model is very very low conversion because you’re talking a lot of money, it’s complex and therefore people want a video or to even go and do a test drive.

‘Over 80 per cent of people still want to go and do a test drive.’

You can view Forrester’s full interview with GB News at the top of the page.

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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