The coronavirus hit just as Jaguar Land Rover’s UK division was beginning to gain some much needed sales momentum after a tough few years. The new Range Rover Evoque was selling well and there had been strong demand for the new Defender. Autocar spoke to Rawdon Glover (below), the boss of Jaguar Land Rover UK, just before showrooms reopened on 1 June, to find out how the firm has been affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
How has the lockdown had an impact on Jaguar Land Rover’s dealers?
“We’ve gone through a series of stages. The first was reacting when the country went into lockdown, with our operations and factories closing. It was a new reality we had to adjust to extraordinarily quickly. The rapid response from the government was welcome, with the furlough scheme and other initiatives to support staff. That was a real positive for our retailers.
“We took the pragmatic view to try to keep some trading going, mostly taking orders and dealing with queries rather than deliveries. We’ve been looking after the needs of key workers [through vehicle sales and servicing] as well.”
What steps did you take to mitigate the impact?
“We acted quickly and tried to cut through things that were not necessary. It’s changed a lot of things.
“We quickly developed a package to put in place with retailers and we’ve looked at funding support and similar schemes. The response has been very positive: we’ve never connected more with our retailers than we have been since the lockdown.
“We’re now turning to the restart phase. We’ve made huge progress at dealer network and industry level on how to move forward. I’ve been part of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders [SMMT] and National Franchised Dealers Association [NFDA] task force developing a series of principles about how dealers should operate, ensuring they look after both customers and their workforce.
“We’re looking at proactive steps, and things such as personal protective equipment (PPE) provision, social distancing, operating, hygiene and dealing with customers in dealerships. There’s been a remarkable degree of uniformity over what the principles should be and it’s essential the industry agrees on how to move forward. The Jaguar Land Rover network is ready to resume sales in a safe working environment.”