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'We have no plans at all for redundancies': Christian retailer hopes to re-employ all furloughed staff as businesses reopen

by Heather Preston

A Christian retailer says he's hopeful his business will be able to recover from the crisis without the need to make staff redundancies, as shops are given the green light to reopen their doors.

From June, shops across England will begin reopening following an announcement from the Prime Minister, with car dealerships and open markets allowed to start trading from Monday and other non-essential shops from 15th June.

Graeme Potts, owner of Eden Motor Group, has welcomed the news but explained that there will be some challenges to face during the transition.

He told Premier: "This is great news and the beginning of normalisation in our eyes. 

"But the main commercial pressure is that in order to be able to deliver products and services, we have to un-furlough some of our colleagues, which on one level is great news, but we've got to make sure that the revenue is coming in to pay for that additional cost because we lose the support which is in place at the moment."

Like many businesses across the country, Eden Motor Group had to furlough some of its workforce as the coronavirus lockdown came into effect. 

As lockdown measures begin to ease some retailers have raised concerns over a change in consumer habits that could mean shoppers are less willing to spend their money.

UK supercar maker McLaren has announced plans to cut more than a quarter of its workforce after the covid-19 crisis hit sales and advertising revenue.

Potts says a time of transition is inevitable but remains optimistic about the future of his company and its employees.

"I'm pleased to say that at the moment, we have no plans at all for redundancies. We very much hope that we'll be able to employ fully again, everybody who is currently on furlough. 

"It is going to be, to a certain extent, contingent on consumer behaviour once the lockdown frees up, and I'm hopeful that we'll get back to previous levels of activity."

The British Independent Retailers Association has stressed the need for stores to take precautions to ensure the safety of staff and customers as they reopen, something Potts says his company has been preparing for in advance.

"We've been putting distancing tapes and protective screens and hygiene measures into all our businesses ready for reopening," he said, and explained that they are considering customers taking test drives alone to ensure social distancing can be maintained. 

"There is an age limit for insurance purposes. Clearly there are risks but yes, we are considering it."

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