GPSV was delighted to host the latest in its series of online re-sales forums on 18 May, attended by a range of our clients from both public and commercial sectors, including local authorities, fleet hire and finance companies. We had a wide-ranging discussion – sharing updates, experiences, and ideas about how fleet operations, management and financing have been impacted by the COVID-19 situation and how things are starting to take shape as we start to emerge from the worst of the crisis. We looked at local authority transport and waste service provision, as well as commercial haulage, construction, ground care and emergency services sectors.
A snapshot of local authorities suggests that transport and waste service levels have been successfully maintained despite the challenges of the lockdown period, largely through temporary re-allocation of staff and adjustments to operational patterns. There is a clear understanding that further changes will be needed as schools and businesses return towards normality but there is sufficient capacity and agile thinking to be able to meet the demand.
Interestingly, local authority plans to migrate to more sustainable fleets (transport, waste, highways) seem to have been given additional impetus from the public perception of improved air quality, especially in London.
So, while there have been many reports of OEMs delaying new vehicle and equipment deliveries, broadly speaking these fleet replacement plans remain in place, although in some authorities these plans have been suspended as people try to work out the full implications of changes in patterns of services delivery and future funding in plans developed pre-Covid-19 .
The common observation is that future funding challenges are anticipated but they are just that, at the moment – future funding challenges. The hope that central government may offer some relief remains.
Workshop and maintenance facilities have remained operational, but offices have been closed and there is an expectation that there will be substantial enduring changes to office-based working.
The groundcare sector is broadly split between sports and amenity usage and then split between local government and private ownership.
A key part of maintaining public health during the crisis has been people’s access to shared space for exercise, safely. So ensuring these spaces are fIt for purpose has been key. Wherever practical and safe, grass cutting and routine maintenance has continued. On a more optimistic note, comments were made that perhaps these previously under funded and under resourced local authority departments could see some positive changes, given the acknowledgement that access to green spaces helps with physical and emotional well being at any time.
Sport has always been a central tenet of British life and as part of the leisure industry, has been hugely impacted by the crisis, as highlighted in the commercial section below. Whilst the premier sports clubs and events are attracting all the headlines, the lower tier clubs, groups and societies are the most likely to see large scale closures, as a result of zero revenues for Q2 and possibly longer. This in turn will impact the new supply and maintenance of equipment and associated products.
In keeping with other sectors, grounds care OEM’s are considering how they might adjust the way they conduct business to ensure their customers can continue being customers, including payment holidays, paused deliveries and support in extending machine life.
The commercial sector is undergoing substantial turbulence, with substantial requests for payment holidays from businesses to finance companies, who in turn are doing their best to be flexible and accommodate reasonable requests. Their view is that we are still in the first wave of requests for re-payment flexibility and as we move beyond the initial three month payment holidays we will start to see less viable businesses defaulting. It will take to the end of October before we see the ongoing results of this turbulence. The haulage sector has previously been highlighted as likely to come under particular pressure – especially for smaller haulage companies, but the bus and coach sector, as a part of the wider events and leisure sector, may also be entering an equally turbulent period, as demand changes shape and reduces. Construction had steadily increased activity in recent weeks, with agriculture largely conforming to seasonal norms of activity. The broad consensus is that vehicle asset values are likely to be depressed for some time to come, as declining end user demand meets increased supply from newly-insolvent vehicle operators and surplus manufacturers’ stock.
Rosenbauer gave us a snapshot perspective of both the fire and rescue sector and as an OEM; fire and rescue services and airports have to maintain both maintenance and re-equipment plans therefore continue to publish new equipment tenders. The short term disruptions being felt elsewhere had not yet had a substantial effect on fleet replacement plans though it was anticipated that there could be some minor delays for specific materials and components due to short-term supplier disruption.
The GPSV team would like to thank everyone for taking part and sharing their experiences and thoughts. We look forward to hosting our next session – date tbc in mid-June. Invitations to follow.
In the meantime, GPSV remains open for business: our online auctions and direct sales continue, whenever you need it done, and we can support you with re-sales price projections and valuations as you adapt your fleet replacement plans. We also offer repair and refurbishment to existing fleets and short-term hire of specialist vehicles, where new, like-for-like fleet replacements are either not permanently required or where budgets are overstretched. We look forward to continuing to work with you and helping to chart our collective way out of the crisis.