“There are however several measures that occupiers, landlords and the UK Government will need to consider ahead of the reopening to ensure that the return to the physical showroom will work for businesses, staff and customers”
“ Given the new procedures that will need to be implemented to ensure dealerships meet official requirements due to social distancing and health and safety obligations, occupiers will need to ensure that their physical stores are a safe space that customers feel confident to go in. This will potentially mean new showroom layouts and renovations to accommodate for additional space which will enable people to avoid contact with one another.
“Furthermore, it will be crucial to communicate to customers about their new health and safety procedures, including PPE, and the continuous cleaning of the showroom and vehicles.”
“The landlord and tenant collaboration is a two-way street. It’s imperative that property owners and occupiers engage with each other to form a partnership moving forward.
“While their dealerships have been closed, occupiers should not have been paying their rates. They could be claiming business rates relief for their properties.
“ Furthermore, during lockdown, owners and occupiers ought to have been reviewing their property portfolio with their real estate adviser taking into account proposed sales forecasts to reflect new market conditions. If dealers fall into this category, they should be thinking about identifying their property requirements moving forward, for example how they might use underutilised space and buildings and recognising where additional space resource will be required. They might need to consider:
- Including more storage space and customer parking facilities.
- Re configuring their showroom due to social distancing and the potential change in purchasing habits including online sales , which perhaps could incorporate additional handover facilities for click-and-collect purchase options, with safe distancing.
- Due to perceived increase of online retailing, there may be a requirement to have further additional compounds to hold stock. There might even be opportunities to multi-franchise as more online businesses will require bigger compounds. They will also potentially need to look at their options to release value from underutilised space.
- There might be the opportunity to increase footfall at their dealership through complimentary uses, such as adding a drive-thru coffee unit etc.
“If finance is an issue, there could also be the option for owner dealers to undertake a sale and leaseback to release cash.
“Lastly, from a sustainable automotive industry perspective, the Government could consider introducing a new scrappage scheme similar to what was announced in the 2009 UK Budget to encourage British motorists to purchase a new more efficient or an alternative fuel vehicle.”