SMMT News

Auto retail sector ready to get Britain moving again, as NFDA and SMMT publish safe restart guidance

13 May 2020 #SMMT News
  • New automotive sector-specific guidance for vehicle retailers published by NFDA and SMMT today.
  • Dealerships ready to welcome back staff and customers, with comprehensive safety measures covering showroom interactions, vehicle demos and test-drives.
  • Industry welcomes clarification on auto retail click & collect, and calls for showrooms to be re-opened urgently to help reboot manufacturing and support UK’s economic recovery.

The UK automotive retail sector today signaled its readiness to get back to work, with the publication of new sector-specific guidance1 by the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) and Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) to help ensure all showrooms are safe spaces for employees and customers.

The best-practice guidance covers the entire customer experience, from booking appointments to showroom interactions, test drives, click & collect, part exchanges and aftersales, and includes advice on staff training, signage, sanitation and protective personal equipment (PPE). Developed together with dealers and manufacturers, it is designed to complement government guidance for the overall UK retail sector, to help dealers of all shapes and sizes implement legal requirements as part of individual risk assessments in line with their unique business and customer needs.

The news follows the publication of government guidance to help businesses across all sectors get back to work safely. While workshops and vehicle deliveries have been allowed to continue throughout the lockdown period, the closure of sales premises has had a devastating effect on the entire industry, with the new car market falling -97.3% in April.2 This forced factories across the UK, also impacted by lockdowns in global markets, to halt production. so the industry is now calling for car showrooms to be re-opened as a matter of urgency to help drive customer demand.3

Sue Robinson, NFDA Director, said,

People need cars to get back to work. Often, getting work done requires the use of a vehicle. It is positive that the automotive industry is working together to resume business as soon as possible in line with the government’s guidelines. The guidance will allow automotive retailers to provide the best possible service in sales and aftersales while protecting staff and guests. Automotive retailers are resilient and will be working hard to overcome any challenges to safely welcome customers back to the showrooms.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

A healthy new car market is a barometer of a strong economy and, with mobility so crucial to our everyday lives, now is the time to allow showrooms to re-open their doors. This guidance signals that Automotive is ready to get back to work to support the government as it sets the wheels of the UK’s recovery in motion, drive manufacturing and help get consumers and businesses safely back on the move in the latest, cleanest, high-tech vehicles.

The automotive retail sector provides employment to more than 590,000 people and, with a turnover of around £200 billion,4 represents one of the key sectors of the UK economy. There are more than 40 million vehicles licensed in the UK,5 many of which may need servicing or replacing.

Notes to editors

1 The NFDA and SMMT automotive retail guidance and best practice is designed to complement official advice and will be updated to reflect any changes over time
2 SMMT data: new car registrations for April
3 SMMT data: car manufacturing data for March
4 Office for National Statistics – Annual Business Survey, 2018
5 SMMT Motorparc data: vehicles on the road, 2019

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