6 May 2020

As the government looks to issue a road map, easing lockdown restrictions as to move to a new normal, UK bodyshops continue to suffer huge capacity shortages, according to the latest research by Trend Tracker Ltd.

Bodyshop owners/managers who responded to the second Covid-19 survey stated the devastation of accident repair volumes along with cash flow as the two biggest concerns for their business. Nearly 55% of survey respondents do not see repair volumes returning to pre-pandemic levels before the end of Q1 2021, if indeed they are to return at all.

As a direct result of the decline in motor claims 73% of businesses are operating on a reduced basis, with 94% of bodyshops placing staff on Furlough.

The loss of revenue is also taking its toll and whilst government has introduced measures for businesses to receive grants and business rates relief, access to financial assistance appears to be somewhat of a lottery.

“It’s clear that many local authorities and banking institutions are interpreting the guidelines for business support in a totally different way,” says Mark Bull, director of Trend Tracker and Auto Body Projects. “The survey clearly demonstrates that some bodyshops have found the process of gaining support relatively easy, whilst others appear to have been declined assistance on an arbitrary basis or are facing red-tape as they await a response.”

The survey, completed by the majority of leading repairers, shows that 35% of bodyshops had applied for a grant with success, whilst 43% had gained business rates relief, however 19% had been declined a grant and 23% declined business rates relief. Bull continued, “businesses obviously need to be eligible to obtain support, but what is also clear is that many are uncertain of whether they can apply or not – in this instance, we suggest they should contact their trade association, NBRA.”

Looking to the second half of 2020, there is cautious optimism from the majority of bodyshop businesses as they see the pandemic as an opportunity to engage with their insurance customers and reset business terms.

However, not all bodyshops take that view with around 20% being less optimistic now than at the start of the pandemic or having no confidence of surviving at all.

The Report can be downloaded, free of charge, HERE