Pendragon has announced that 20% of chief executive Bill Berman’s pay will be donated to the NHS as employees across the group were furloughed and took wage cuts during the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown.
The AM100’s former number one retail group by turnover said that it would donate a fifth of Berman’s salary to “support first responders and frontline workers” on his request as it announced measures to mitigate the effects of the outbreak on its business.
It also revealed that it would follow the lead of Arnold Clark, Trustford and others in donating 20,000 disposable car seat covers to local health trusts and offering a 25% discount to all first responders and frontline workers seeking maintenance or warranty work on their vehicles through the end of April.
Berman said: "My priority has been and will continue to be the safety and wellbeing of our associates, customers and partners in the communities we serve throughout the United Kingdom.
"Supporting our first responders and frontline workers must be our priority as residents and citizens of this great country.
“Each day the men and women of the NHS put themselves in harm's way in order to save the lives of people they have never met. Every little bit we can do to help the NHS will make a difference.”
In a statement issued via the London Stock Exchange this morning (April 8), Pendragon said that following the closure of retail operations at its Stratstone, Evans Halshaw, Car Store, Pinewood, Quickco and Pendragon Vehicle Management locations it was currently operating with a reduced workforce at select dealerships to allow for the maintenance and repair of emergency service vehicles and those of frontline workers only.
This would be re-evaluated on April 13, it said.
The group added that, due to the sudden decrease in business activities and the uncertainty over its duration, it had taken the step of furloughing over 80% of UK operating and staff employees for a 21-day period.
Wage cuts designed to further reduce the lockdown period’s impact on the group included:
- Board Members and senior leadership salary reductions of up to 20%.
- Upper management salary reduction of up to 15%.
- Other corporate and field support personnel salary reduction of up to 10%.
Less than a month ago Pendragon revealed a £117.4 million loss after tax in 2019 in an annual results statement that revealed the full impact of “significant H1 losses”.
Turnover declined by 2.6% to £4.5 billion (2018: £4.63bn) – up 3.8% on a like-for-like basis – as post-tax losses grew from £50.5m in 2018.
Commenting on the results at the time, Berman insisted that the business remained “a company with great potential and a very strong team”, adding: "2019 was a year of transition for the Group that played out against challenging market conditions, however, we returned to profitable growth in the second half and this provides us with a solid platform for the coming year.
“At the moment, we are closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the economy as the situation continues to develop.”