THIS WEEK
 

On Wednesday we launched a proper, professional CV writing service. And a busy week it has been, but highly successful.

We still have some £99 CV writing vouchers left, if you need a new CV then we will either write one from scratch for you, or help you rewrite your current one. Full details are on our www.workagain.co.uk site. If you go to this store and select the CV writing service, just put the following code in at the checkout to make sure you benefit from this special price for automotive job seekers – MTS99JUL. This offer is open to the first 50 jobseekers.

In the meantime, news this week has been dominated by Lookers ongoing problems. As many will be aware, what initially looked like a serious £4 million hole in their accounts has turned into something altogether larger. The group had already announced a number of redundancies, it is difficult to see how it can avoid further cuts, especially as it had to suspend its shares on Wednesday to protect itself from the fallout. As if times were not challenging enough in the current market.

On a positive note, however, many of our clients have been reporting a bumper June. Some have said to us it was their busiest month for a long time, and possibly their best June ever. Quite how long this buoyant feeling will last rather depends on how quickly the country emerges from lockdown. With pubs among the many businesses allowed to open this Saturday, showrooms might be a little quieter than they have been.

Lookers are certainly not alone in suffering from the current pandemic, and manufacturers such as Daimler are predicting that market contraction caused by coronavirus will probably result in a much greater restructuring than they or anybody else had already planned. Everybody, including BMW, is racing to comply with EU emission standards just as sales have fallen off a cliff, and electric seems to be the way. And even if all of that wasn’t bad enough for the traditional motor industry, Tesla has seen a surge in its shares as deliveries are well ahead of expectations. It seems that the pandemic has changed the world, and it may well have changed the minds of car buyers too.

Have a great weekend. Football, Formula One, golf are all back, it’s cricket’s turn next week!

 
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

To follow, without halt, one aim: There’s the secret of success.
Anna Pavlova (1885 – 1931)
My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.
Winston Groom, Forrest Gump
About the only thing that comes to us without effort is old age.
Gloria Pitzer, in Reader’s Digest, 1979
I learned early that sometimes you have to dig through garbage to get anywhere.
Michael Hainey, After Visiting Friends: A Son’s Story, 2013
THIS WEEK
 

We have a bit of a special offer for you. A CV Writing service aimed at the automotive industry – £99 for the first 50 job-seekers who want a professional compelling CV compiled by the industry experts (and we promise it will be good). Just drop me a line and we will send you all the details on Tuesday next week – guyl@mtselect.co.uk.

Why are we doing this now? Many of you may know that we have a sister company, BackupHR, which specialises in HR and employment law. And we have been delivering outplacement courses for their clients for many years, across a number of different industries. And challenging and enjoyable work it is too. And we have created plenty of great, original CVs for delegates to the courses.

So with plenty of requests from candidates across many industries, we thought we would offer it to those in our core sector, which we have never done before. It is something we have done for many years, and we have all of the software to do quickly efficiently, but most importantly compellingly.  This is considerably below many specialist CV writing specialists rates, whose documents we can normally spot instantly, and which often fail to hit the mark for such a results orientated sector as our own.

In other news this week, Aston Martin seems to have raised £260 million to pull itself out of the mire. Though they do say they are still quite deep in it. A much loved, iconic brand, it has had a pretty tough two years. And just as it launched its saviour model, the DBX, everyone shut their doors and stayed inside for Covid 19. Let us hope the second half of 2020 is better for them. The rest of the news will not make great reading this week, and the prospects for recruitment within the automotive industry for the next couple of months at least look less than rosy.

There will be winners and there will be losers from this challenging period. And despite the tales of doom and gloom, we will almost certainly finish up the year in a better place than we think is possible just now.

Have a great weekend, if you know any Liverpool fans probably best not to accept a call from them in the next couple of days, it could go on for some time.

 

 
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

One never knows what each day is going to bring. The important thing is to be open and ready for it.
Henry Moore (1898 – 1986)
You always pass failure on the way to success.
Mickey Rooney (1920 – )
It’s a sad day when you find out that it’s not accident or time or fortune, but just yourself that kept things from you.
Lillian Hellman (1905 – 1984)
Anything that has real and lasting value is always a gift from within.
Franz Kafka (1883 – 1924)
THIS WEEK

As the motor industry returns to work, and customers return in some numbers to showrooms and aftersales departments, there is still considerable uncertainty around.

With the news this week that Lookers has closed more sites, and is set to make some fairly drastic redundancies, we fear that they will not be the last. Ironically, however, the problems on public transport could mean that many have to turn to a vehicle to manage their journey into work. One of the reasons why the government guidance says that if you can work from home, continue to do so, is to take pressure off those transport networks. But for those that can’t, they may suddenly have to get hold of the right vehicle. And with today’s interest rates, and the amount of stock lying around, that might just be affordable for many families.

We are certainly not seeing much activity in the market at present, though there are some tentative conversations, and despite the well-publicised problems, we have had a number of candidates start in the past couple of months.

Ironically, as an organisation, we have been very busy because our sister company, BackupHR, specialises in HR and employment law. And our Thursday morning briefing has been extremely well attended, as we take everybody through the ins and outs of a rapidly evolving HR environment against the background of Covid 19 and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Registration for next week’s Webinar is here, the full agenda will appear closer to the time as the issues become clearer.

 

THIS WEEK’S JOBS
Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page

Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Human beings are seventy percent water, and with some the rest is collagen.
Martin Mull (1943 – )
If absolute power corrupts absolutely, does absolute powerlessness make you pure?
Harry Shearer 
Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.
Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804)
The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards.
Arthur Koestler (1905 – 1983)
THIS WEEK
It has not exactly been a stellar start to the year for the car industry, nor for many others looking at what is about to face us with Covid-19. Headlines across the Financial Times and other respected titles point to a slowdown in production for many manufacturers as a result of supply chain problems, and local difficulties experienced in places such as the North of Italy. Having weathered the Brexit storm, to be faced with what is potentially a far greater effect to our economy is not good news. And it looks as if many decisions on recruitment and investment will have to be delayed as this current health crisis passes through.

And delay is a word that those who work for Lookers will not welcome at the moment. On Wednesday it announced it was delaying the publication of its annual results until mid April at the earliest. This was due to its investigation into fraudulent activities in one of its divisions. You will remember that the group were already subject to an FSA investigation into their use of financial services products, and were completely reviewing their sales process. Earlier this year they had announced the appointment of a new CEO and COO. By yesterday, that new Chief Operating Officer had left the company. No one quite knows why, but the timing is not good.

As Lookers look to another reorganisation, so one of Europe’s major franchises has announced a restructure of its own. Stuart Rowley, Ford of Europe president, announced that Ford is planning to make deep cuts in its European retail network. And the UK is one of their prime targets. Analysts think that at least 180 of their 400 dealer network are at risk. To be fair, that would leave a franchise that now sells no more than most of its competitors with a network of dealers about the same size as its competitors. Such reorganisations will always be painful, but Ford is probably left with little choice. I remember it did not have many more dealers back in the late 80s when its market share was well above 20%. How times have changed.

Have a great weekend, it might be time to cancel your Sky Sports subscription as there is very little on.

THIS WEEK’S JOBS
Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page

Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

The incompetent with nothing to do can still make a mess of it.
Laurence J. Peter (1919 – 1988) 
If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can’t be done.
Peter Ustinov (1921 – 2004)
You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.
Michael Pritchard
Absurdity, n.: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one’s own opinion.
Ambrose Bierce (1842 – 1914), The Devil’s Dictionary
THIS WEEK
Sales figures in February didn’t look very pretty really. In fact with the UK just dropping 3%, you would have to say we had a bit of a result. Spain dropped 6%, Germany was down 11%, but then China was down 80%. A figure which makes everybody else’s irrelevant really, as they represent about 20% of global sales.

On the whole, I am a great admirer of what Google has been able to achieve. They dominate the search engine market, their Android system seems pretty robust for phones and their G suite applications have given Microsoft Office a pretty good run for their money.

But a warning today not to cross them, and certainly not to leave them with any trade secrets. All of which is perfectly reasonable, but you have to feel a touch of sympathy for their ex-head of self driving cars as he declared himself bankrupt this week in the face of a $179 million lawsuit, alleging he leaked trade secrets. A lawsuit that it looks as if he will lose.  I suspect it will have the desired effect, and the next person to leave them will probably not take many secrets along.

GM has not had too much good news recently, but they have been extremely bullish over the last week, announcing their new battery or electric vehicle platform Ultrium. For a normal car, they are claiming ranges in excess of 400 miles and 0-60 times of three seconds. Quite some powertrain. And they reckon that the technology will cost two thirds of similar power units.

Clearly a very green alternative and they have promised to introduce it across much of their range by 2023. Intriguingly, however, for such a green initiative, guess the first model they plan to introduce it in? The Hummer. Well I guess if they can make a difference in that type of vehicle, then your average small family run around will be a piece of cake.

Have a great weekend – only 220 wet, rainy days until Christmas (and a few dozen dry ones)

THIS WEEK’S JOBS
Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page

Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Perhaps in time the so-called Dark Ages will be thought of as including our own.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742 – 1799)
Nothing is as irritating as the fellow who chats pleasantly while he’s overcharging you.
Kin Hubbard (1868 – 1930)
It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910) 
The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.
George Eliot (1819 – 1880)
THIS WEEK
I was not going to talk about coronavirus this week. After all, it is covered in great depth in lots of other
media around the world. However, the cancellation of the Geneva Motor Show next week throws into focus just what an effect this virus is having on the world and its economy. Coincidentally, wearing my other hat as MD of another company, BackupHR, we are running a webinar for employers on Monday, at 11 AM, regarding what you should and shouldn’t be doing with your workforce. There are still a few places left, it will last little more than 30 minutes,  click here to register
 
Renault did not have a good year last year. Ongoing problems over the departure of its chief executive, a poor relationship with Nissan and a deteriorating market share saw their profits tumble. Today they announced they are selling some of their retail dealerships. These are in France, but it will be interesting to see if they are going to continue that trend around Europe. They claim to be Europe’s biggest retailer with over 275 outlets. If they are looking to save money, then there is an awful lot of capital and overhead tied up in such a network.
 
Some better news for VW this week, as they say that they have reached an agreement in Germany with a major consumer group who took out a class action against them. The company itself has announced they have agreed an 830 million Euro settlement. Divided between 260,000 customers, that sounds like just over €3000 a head, though apparently it depends upon the value, the spec and the age of the vehicle. Automotive News Europe reckons the scandal has cost the carmaker €30 billion so far in fines and penalties.
 
Finally, it is probably the law of unintended consequences, but the coronavirus might just be kicking into plan much wider use of online sales platforms. AM magazine reports that Geely has been the latest to launch an online service in China, sales through car showrooms plummeted 92% in the first half of February. Clearly this was largely as a result of the country’s lockdown in the face of the epidemic. The company has apparently worked on what is called a fully contactless service, even offering test drives without anybody having to come into contact with anybody else. Once you make this sort of thing happen, who knows where it will stop. Not good news for their dealers going forward.
 

Have a great weekend – don’t forget, March does not start until Sunday.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS
Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page

Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.
Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955), (attributed) 
Normal is not something to aspire to, it’s something to get away from.
Jodie Foster (1962 – )
The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.
Hannah Arendt (1906 – 1975)
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)
THIS WEEK

If we thought the automotive world had troubles last year, welcome to 2020.

It’s been quite a week for Renault. First of all Moody’s, the ratings agency, downgraded their debt to junk status. After profits have been wiped out in the past year it is clear that analysts are punishing it, worried that it will not be able to return itself to its previous healthy state. At almost exactly the same time French prosecutors have announced a probe into Carlos Goshn, their former high-profile chief executive. They are looking into misuse of funds and abuse of corporate assets as well as things like money-laundering over the past 11 years. Things don’t get much better for him, do they? How quickly you can fall from grace.

Tesla’s German operation also had an interesting week. On Wednesday they had to stop work on their new gigafactory because of claims by environmentalists that they were cutting down trees in a precious environment. They still have not got the complete go-ahead for their new site, but the courts have allowed them to restart their felling of the forest on the new 350 acre site. Remember, this is the factory that the UK thought it had a good chance of getting, but that Brexit word got in the way. Politicians had warned that the legal battle that environmentalists were waging would  inflict serious damage on Germany’s image as a good place to do business.

I covered the Coronavirus in depth last week, but the headlines still will not go away. I love the report of Jaguar Land Rover getting parts out of China in suitcases – that Range Rover waiting on the production line is obviously worth it. And a couple of hours ago the company announced plans that it was shelving plans to sell bonds to raise cash. Apparently investors have looked at the risks around a severe downturn caused by the virus and backed away.

Finally, a number of manufacturers are getting their excuses in early. Coronavirus is to blame as there are claims that the first half of February has seen sales slump by 92% in China. Daimler, Nissan, Honda warning of serious adverse effects and are delaying production or pointing out that production in other countries will be affected. VW has seen its own sales in the country fall significantly at the start of this year. And as news of an outbreak in Korea gathers pace, I don’t expect Hyundai and Kia will be immune either.

Have a great weekend, summer is only 4 months away. 2021 only 10 away.

THIS WEEK’S JOBS
Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page

Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

To get something done, a committee should consist of no more than three men, two of whom are absent.
Robert Copeland
One can survive everything, nowadays, except death, and live down everything except a good reputation.
Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900) 
A lie told often enough becomes the truth.
Lenin (1870 – 1924)
Always be wary of any helpful item that weighs less than its operating manual.
Terry Pratchett
THIS WEEK

They used to say “When America sweep sneezes, the whole world catches a cold”. Well, what happens when China catches coronavirus? The whole world goes into meltdown it would appear. And particularly the Nissan Renault alliance.

Shortly after announcing the appointment of its new chief executive, Luca de Meo, Renault announced its first loss in at least a decade. And to rectify it, it is planning a radical $2.2 billion cost-cutting restructure to put it back on the right track.

Losses were exacerbated by its fairly large holding in Nissan, who performed even worse than its partner. This meant that Nissan, who had contributed over €1.5 billion in 2018 to Renault’s bottom line, produced €1.3 billion less last year. Investors are not impressed, and Nissan’s share price plummeted nearly 10% on the news. The company is now valued less then much smaller marques, like Subaru and Suzuki. The last three years have not been kind to it, and its share price is down 19% this year, after a decline of 28% last year and 22% in 2018.

No wonder, then, they are suing former Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn for $90m for his alleged behaviour and misdemeanours with the company over the past decade. I guess they need every penny they can get.

When just one country like China represents a quarter of global vehicle production, then if analysts are predicting at least a 5% fall in the Chinese market (remember it normally climbs between six and 10% a year, so that might be 15% behind expectations) then everybody gets worried. Expect a slew of vehicle offers in the UK in the coming months, as European manufacturers try to divert production elsewhere.

And VW would probably like to divert attention elsewhere as well. Especially in Germany, where consumers who are suing them through a class action have turned down a settlement of nearly €1 billion so far. Negotiations are continuing, but the manufacturer once again looks set to lose another considerable amount of money, as the action continues. Not only that, the effect on its reputation in its heartland is probably incalculable. I suspect this is one they are going to have to settle quickly.

Have a great weekend, it’s probably best to leave that kite in the cupboard for at least another week.

THIS WEEK’S JOBS
Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at
on our Jobs Page

Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them.
Jane Austen (1775 – 1817)
Age is mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
Satchel Paige (1906 – 1982)
Lawyers spend a great deal of their time shoveling smoke.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (1841 – 1935)
There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.
Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)
THIS WEEK

There are a lot of headwinds for the automotive industry in 2020, but I don’t expect anybody had factored in the coronavirus is a major part of their planning. However, a sector that is grappling with electrification, balancing CO2 figures in Europe, a trade dispute between the US and China and falling consumer demand is now having to close down factories and rein back on production because of the extent of contagion across the China region.

And the analysts have started to play this game as well. They are comparing it to the SARS outbreak 16 years ago. They reckon that it could see a potential 3-5% slashed off global production if it all turns sour. But most of them are hoping that the outbreak will be mainly contained in China.

Elon Musk does not do things quietly. And he has taken great delight in the discomfort of hedge funds over the past few weeks. Apparently Tesla is the most shorted stock on the planet at the moment. And in case you do not know how shorting works, hedge funds borrow shares from something like a pension fund for say six months. They sell them in the hope of buying them back cheaper and handing them back. But it leaves you with a little bit of egg on your face if the shares double or triple in the meantime.

And since last summer, Tesla has boomed – in late May they were listed at $185. At the start of this week they were at nearly $900. In theory if you had borrowed 1m shares for 9 months, you could be looking at a loss of $71.5m. And many have found themselves in this situation, with a position to square by the end of January. It meant not only was it costing them a fortune, but as everybody was after the same stock, it’s price ratcheted up. You have to feel sorry for them, don’t you?

In fact the stock has slipped back a little this week, largely on the news that they will be cutting production in China because of the aforementioned coronavirus. Nevertheless the company is riding high compared to last year $740 as I write this, and looks as if it will make a significant profit this year too.

Which is more than may be said for some dealer groups in 2020. Figures in January look pretty dire, even though many of the groups I have spoken to are of the opinion that the market has picked up. For many this is franchise specific, and any dealer over reliant on diesel is likely to remain in a pretty poor place. Digital registrations are now back to 2000 levels, when they formed less than 20% of registrations.

Have a great weekend, I would not bother getting your kite out for Sunday.

THIS WEEK’S JOBS
Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page

Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

About the time we think we can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends.
Herbert Hoover (1874 – 1964)
Humor is our way of defending ourselves from life’s absurdities by thinking absurdly about them.
Lewis Mumford (1895 – 1990)
The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.
Terry Pratchett
Estimated amount of glucose used by an adult human brain each day, expressed in M&Ms: 250
Harper’s Index, October 1989
THIS WEEK

Today is 31st January. Which is occupying you more? Transfer deadline day, your tax return, or our departure from the EU? Having just returned from a trip to Europe today, no doubt it will be some time before any citizens notice any difference in our relationship. Though many continue to see it as a cause for celebration or recrimination, depending upon which side of the argument you come down on.

There was, however, some good news this week for the automotive manufacturing industry in this country. After a big slump last year, it was good news on a number of levels. You may have seen the headlines, UPS has ordered up to 20,000 new vehicles from a start-up company, Arrival. They have been manufacturing rechargeable light commercial vehicles for a little while, but in small numbers. But have also been working very closely with a number of key clients, such as UPS, to design their next generation of vehicles. And these will be completely re-engineered from the ground up. Not only that, so will the manufacturing process.

And the good news is that their main factory is in Banbury. At present they employ 400 people, of which more than half are in the UK. And the revolution? This is very much a modular production model, producing major components in a number of different places before finally assembling them. Dare I say it, much like PCs are created nowadays. Someone produces a hard drive, another the processor, another the memory and the motherboards. The assembler gathers all this together and then bolts them into place. Compare this to Tesla’s model, they have built one of the largest factories in the world in China, producing 500,000 vehicles. Study it – Arrival’s model is more nimble, more adaptable, less capital intensive and less risky.

And talking about risk, did any of you put any money on Aston Martin over the past few months? Looking at the headlines this week, perhaps you should have done. It would appear that Lawrence Stroll, head of the Formula One racing team, has injected an enormous amount of capital, and renamed his team Aston Martin racing, saving the company and reinvigorating it. Shares today have shot up as a result.
Have a great weekend, enjoy your first few days out of Europe.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS
Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page

Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.
Agnes Repplier (1855 – 1950)
Though it sounds absurd, it is true to say I felt younger at sixty than I felt at twenty.
Ellen Glasgow (1873 – 1945), The Woman Within, 1954
It is very strange that the years teach us patience – that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.
Elizabeth Taylor (1932 – ), “A Wreath of Roses”
Keep cool and you command everybody.
Louis de Saint-Just (1767 – 1794)
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