Customers to flock to independents as franchised dealers falter?

Published:  25 March, 2020

 Independent garages could end up bearing the brunt of any overflow repair demand from franchised dealer customers, as elements of the UK dealer networks shut both repair workshops and as well as their car showrooms.

While their servicing and repair operations could stay open, as they would be classified as providing an essential service under UK government Coronavirus guidelines, many are opting to close their sites entirely.

Lookers has closed all of its showrooms and service departments, Automotive News Europe has reported. Vertu has made the same decision, as has Arnold Clark.

However, Pendragon has only shut sales outlets. Service centres at Evans Halshaw and Stratstone outlets are staying open, and are focused on emergency vehicles and cars owned by key workers.

Meanwhile, the TrustFord network, owned directly by Ford, is staying open, fielding pared-back aftersales teams in its workshops. Marshalls Motor Group also intends to keep service centres open.

Thousands of independent garages across the UK have opted to remain open, and are adapting their practices to help their existing customers, as well as new customers with mechanical emergencies that cannot be dealt with elsewhere.

NFDA Director Sue Robinson said: “Aftersales workshops and their technicians will play an important role in ensuring that critical vehicles can continue to operate safely and efficiently during these challenging times.”

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