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Dealer bodyshop closures double

This means the number of accident repair centres attached to forecourts closing has increased by 100 per cent from 100 a year to 200. Ten years ago 46 per cent of retailers had bodyshops, putting the figure at 2800, but now it is just 36 per cent of dealers. One reason for the declining number of bodyshops is the falling number of retailers – mainly through consolidation – with more than 600 closing since 1997 and more than 1000 shutting down over the last 10 years.

“During dealership refurbishment, many on-site bodyshops disappear in favour of more lucrative activities such as servicing and repair,” says one industry observer. “The labour rates commanded for the lesser investment in service can be three times as much as the more expensive outlay in body repairs. After all, who would want to invest £500,000 to pull in just £23.50 per hour?”

But another key factor is that capacity, which is determined by the number of skilled workers rather than volume, is declining. A shrinking skills base has meant many workers have had to work longer hours while companies look for ways to boost efficiency. Carmakers also employ independent dealers to make up the network coverage.

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