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Rising demand prompts Simon Bailes Peugeot to unfurlough sales staff

Simon Bailes, chief executive of Simon Bailes Peugeot

Simon Bailes Peugeot is poised to return a number of sales staff from furlough to deal with a rising number of telephone and online enquiries for new and used vehicles.

The business, with dealerships in Northallerton, Stockton and Guisborough has procedures in place to allow it to safely and responsibly welcome the public back to its showrooms once restrictions are eased.

Simon Bailes Peugeot temporarily closed its showrooms for vehicle sales in line with government advice, although customers are still able to order online.

Aftersales and vehicle servicing departments continue to operate to support essential vehicle servicing and maintenance – with priority given to key workers.

Simon Bailes, chief executive of Simon Bailes Peugeot, said: “As a responsible business we have worked extremely hard to ensure we have stringent procedures and policies in place to protect our customers and staff. Health and safety remain our priority.

“We have received a number of online and telephone enquiries from customers regarding the purchase of new and used vehicles and as a result several of our sales staff are coming off the furlough scheme to meet this growing demand.”

The group's decision to return increased numbers of staff from furlough follows a similar push by other car retail groups, with Vertu Motors chief executive, Robert Forrester, having told AM: “The fact is that the government can’t simply pay for people to stay at home for months and months and months on end.

"You could just sit tight like traders in hybernation, and that might be the best thing to do, but from a moral point of view and from the point-of-view of some of our customers - who need cars and an aftersales service - we need to be open."

Earlier this week the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced changes to the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CRJS) which extended its support until October.

It also added flexibility, allowing businesses to return to staff to their business part-time - whil retaining some CRJS support - from August.

Simon Bailes Peugeot has recently been praised by Sunak in a letter of thanks for the dealerships support of the NHS during the coronavirus outbreak.

The group donated 20,000 disposable car seat covers and offered its demonstrator fleet to keyworkers to keep essential healthcare services moving.

People visiting Simon Bailes' dealerships are advised to observe social distancing rules.

Transparent protective screens have been installed at customer service desks and staff regularly use hand sanitiser.

Simon Bailes Peugeot is also offering contactless home deliveries of vehicles to customers living locally.

Vehicles are cleaned and sanitised, with the delivery driver wearing PPE, including gloves and mask, the group said.

Those with part exchanges are asked to clean and sanitise their vehicles a minimum of three hours before collection.

Bailes said: “We have already imposed a range of safeguarding measures within our parts and servicing departments which work well.

"We are prepared to extend and reinforce these measures so that we are in a position to welcome back customers to our showrooms the moment it is judged prudent to do so.”

Customers collecting parts are also asked to observe the two-metre rule, with trays and tables used to ensure contactless exchange of goods.

Meanwhile, parts for delivery are left a minimum of two hours before handling, with staff wearing protective gloves and regularly washing their hands.

All staff within the servicing department wear PPE and use disposable seat covers, steering wheel and gear lever covers, and floor mats. Vehicles are cleaned and sanitised before and after work is carried out.

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