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Brexit viewed as ‘threat’ by 50% of car dealers, says Close Brothers

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Car dealers are increasingly viewing Brexit as an “issue” as 50% rank it highly on a list of threats, according to Close Brothers Motor Finance’s Dealer Satisfaction Survey.

Confidence amongst dealers continues to remain high at the start of 2019, it said.

The vast majority surveyed (93%) said they were confident about business prospects for the coming 12 months.

However, the results also showed a shift in the proportion of dealers who said they were ‘very confident’ in the previous quarter, to ‘fairly confident’ now. 45% of dealers said they were ‘very confident’ (down from 60% in the previous quarter), while 48% said they were ‘fairly confident’ (up from 35%).

Topping the list of threats, Brexit has now become an issue for 50% of dealers, according to the research. This figure is up from 35% in the previous quarter, and is double that of 6 months previously (26%).

It is by some distance the top issue that is on the minds of dealers currently, affecting five times as many dealers as the next issue on the list (the ban on diesel – 10%).

Close Brothers Motor Finance’s director of sales Sean Kemple (pictured) said: “Brexit is absolutely having an impact on dealers and consumers at the moment, there is no doubt about this.

"All eyes are on Westminster as we wait in hope of a satisfactory resolution to the ongoing uncertainty that we are currently facing.”

However, as Brexit rises in concern, other threats facing dealers are now not affecting as many as before. Just 4% of dealers have concerns about an economic downturn (down from 14% six months previously), suggesting a positive outlook for the future beyond Brexit. Similarly, stock availability concerns affected just 4% of dealers, dropping from 10% the previous quarter.

Two thirds of dealers (68%) could point to specific opportunities for their business in the months ahead. For a quarter (24%), this was maintain the stability of the business.

The biggest rise was seen in the increased demand for particular vehicle types, with one in five (19%) experiencing this (up from 6% the previous quarter). 8% are expanding into new vehicles.

“However, despite a steep rise in the proportion of dealers who currently see this as a threat, along with the other challenges such as the market’s confusion over fuel type, the vast majority are confident about the long term, with two-thirds able to point to specific opportunities in the months ahead,” said Kemple.

“Amongst this extended period of uncertainty and confusion, dealers can play an important role in reassuring and advising customers about the way forward.

“Ripe opportunities exist in expanding the forecourt to meet evolving consumer demand, be that new fuel types, new models, expanding the used stock selection, or an enhanced after-sales proposition.

"To seize these opportunities, dealers must establish themselves as a source of expertise and reassurance to customers.”





6 month rise/fall






Ban on diesel





Legislation / regulation





Changing consumer behaviour





Increased competition





Stock availability





Economic downturn





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