Working in disguise was ‘eye-opener’ says Bristol Street Motors CEO Robert Forrester

  • Robert Forrester says changes have been made at firm as a result of his time on Undercover Big Boss
  • Company has introduced better maternity pay and more leadership programmes for staff
  • ITV show with CEO going undercover as fake history lecturer airs today at 9pm

Time 1 month ago

Bristol Street Motors chief Robert Forrester says his time on Undercover Big Boss taught him things about the company even he didn’t know.

The show airs on ITV tonight (Aug 12) and Forrester says his findings led to a two-hour board meeting after filming.

The 50-year-old CEO was disguised as fake history lecturer Tom Gough from Aberystwyth seeking a post-pandemic career change.

Over the course of the programme, which gave him the opportunity to see what really goes on when he’s not around, he was unable to sell a car and one of his unknowing employees said he didn’t think Forrester’s alter ego had ‘ever done a hard day’s graft in his life’.

As a result of what he found, the firm has introduced better maternity pay as well as a number of leadership and development courses.

Speaking to Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford on ITV’s This Morning yesterday (Aug 11) about his time on Undercover Big Boss, Forrester said his experience of going undercover had been an ‘eye-opener’.

In the interview – which you can watch at the top of this post – he said: ‘There were quite a lot of things actually [that I found out].

‘Since not being able to go around the business, there has actually been quite a lot of change.

‘We now sell cars online and do digital videos, etcetera, so it was a great chance to see “are these things in place as you’d expect them to be?”.

‘We ended up at the end of the programme with a two-hour board meeting going through all my findings from each day and looking at what was good, what was bad and what we needed to sort out.

‘I don’t think there was anything that particularly shocked me if I’m honest. I guess the key thing was that I was unable to sell a car!’

Forrester, who has been CEO of Vertu Motors – which operates Bristol Street Motors – since 2006, said he was shocked to find how much untapped potential was working within the company.

The group is now working harder to ensure there is a clear career path in which people can progress through the ranks.

He added: ‘The big finding for me was that we’ve got a lot of very talented people that didn’t have the confidence to progress their careers.

‘We are putting in place a lot of leadership development programmes and mentorship programmes to unleash the talent, which is there – I saw it with my own eyes – but people lack confidence in some cases.’

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Undercover Big Boss is on ITV tonight (Aug 12) at 9pm. Make sure you read our review on Car Dealer tomorrow.

Programme trailer published with permission of ITV

Picture and interview clip: ITV/This Morning

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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