Coronavirus and Brexit mean planning beyond short term “almost impossible” for remarketing sector

The impact of the coronavirus crisis and potential effects of Brexit are making planning beyond the short term almost impossible in the remarketing sector.

So reports the Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA), which points out that the currently booming market is arguably obscuring the potential dangers that lie ahead.

Chair Sam Watkins said: “As has been widely reported, the sector is very, very busy and we are seeing highly unusual trends such as car and van values continuing to rise through the Autumn when they would normally be written down.

“However, those working within the sector are almost obsessively asking when this boom period will come to an end. There is a fear that there must come a point when the coronavirus crisis will really start to have a negative influence in terms of the impact of factors such as growing unemployment and the end of furloughing.

“Even if there is a soft economic landing from the pandemic, something that we are hoping the latest post-furloughing government measures announced by the chancellor will help provide, there are massive fears about the results of Brexit, largely because we still don’t know what effect it will have on the motor industry as a whole. There are just so many unanswered questions.

“For an industry that is historically very good at predicting and forecasting, this high degree of uncertainty is unnerving. It is almost impossible to plan beyond the short term. While we are all firefighting to handle current levels of business, there is also a definite fear that the situation could change very quickly.”

Sam added that there were some events forthcoming that would affect the remarketing sector that would have an almost definite impact on vehicle supply.

“As an example, it seems very likely that at some point soon, there will be large scale defleeting from some major daily rental companies of vehicles that have been held for longer periods awaiting freer new car supply. This would follow on from the restructuring that we have already seen in that sector, especially among businesses being affected by dramatic loss of airport business. This could well be accompanied by a wave of early terminations and short term contract extensions on personal leasing. However, we just don’t know when this will happen or the extent.

“Because values have been so strong, it is possible that this potentially sizeable wave of vehicles might simply be absorbed by the market but they could also act as a prompt for an overall realignment of values.”

Sam said that the situation was likely to persist until a vaccine became widely available for coronavirus and the details of Brexit were better known and understood.

“It’s the lack of certainty and information that is stopping businesses within remarketing from planning. Really, we are waiting for these two major situations to be resolved before we can start to look ahead with any degree of certainty.”

The VRA represents companies involved in all aspects of remarketing used cars which between them handle, sell, inspect, transport or manage more than 1.5 million used vehicles every year.

Sam said: “Because the sector is hungry for shared knowledge, for advice and for context, the VRA has proven very valuable to members over the last few months and, if the coronavirus crisis or Brexit do have the kind of negative effect we fear in the near future, will probably prove even more useful.”

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