Since 2004 the number of bodyshops has fallen by 8%, the latest in a long-term decline that has seen the network shrink by 30% in the past few years.
There are predictions that the number of primary bodyshops will plummet from 4,500 to 3,800 by 2010. As a result, it is taking longer for fleets to get cars booked in for repair following accidents, pushing up related costs such as vehicle replacements.
Members of the Scottish region of Acfo, the fleet managers’ association, heard that despite the fall in bodyshop numbers, there was a shortage of skilled staff, with vacancy levels running at 14%. At the same time, the cost of running bodyshops is increasing, with courtesy cars costing £60,000 a year alone for most businesses.
A spokesman for AutoRestore, a minor accident damage and mobile bodyshop company, which is a sister company of Autoglass, said: ‘The hidden costs of vehicle repairs are part of the iceberg effect related to car fleet accidents. While the actual payment for body repair is clear to see, hidden costs such as lost working hours, missed contracts and extra hire charges can increase the cost by between eight and as much as 50 times.’