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Car retailers recruiting after 2020’s furlough reliance facilitated recovery

NFDA chief executive, Sue Robinson

Car retailers across the UK are recruiting staff after surviving the the COVID-19 lockdown of dealerships thanks to assistance from the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

That is the positive message of recovery given by National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) chief executive Sue Robinson as the £70 billion CRJS officially ended today (September 30).

Robinson said that retailers have been able to survive and move-on from the depths of the pandemic thanks to the scheme, which has helped pay the wages of 11.6 million workers in various sectors over the past 18 months.

“When dealerships had to remain shut during the pandemic franchised dealers relied on the furlough scheme,” she said.

“However, the majority of dealer groups have gradually brought their staff back over the past months due to high levels of demand in retail and aftersales.”

The car retail sector's strong recovery has prompted the likes of Marshall Motor Group, Lookers and Inchcape to repay their furlough funding.

However, as car retail has been able to restructure and recover – resulting in strong financial performance from the AM100’s top groups – nearly one million workers were expected to be on the scheme at the end of September, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics.

The Bank of England has said it is expecting a small rise in unemployment as a result.

But Robinson insisted that car retail is on the hunt for staff after experiencing a recovery in 2021.

She said: “The latest findings of our NFDA HR survey showed most dealers are currently hiring across all business areas.

“This is driven by the reopening of the economy, the requirement to attract a workforce with different skills to adapt to the evolving trends facing automotive retail, and, in a number of cases, reallocation of resources.

“NFDA’s employment initiative, Drive My Career, continues to support members by redirecting young people to dealers’ career pages with live vacancies and dealers’ demand for DMC’s support has grown significantly over the past weeks.”

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