Staff Update 8 April 2020


To: All Staff

From: Andrew Hulcoop

Re: COVID-19

Date: 8 April 2020

We’re now two weeks into the initial three week shut down and I trust that you’re all keeping well and adhering to the government’s guidelines. They really are intended to get us through this unprecedented period in as shorter time as possible and enable the country to get back to some form of normality.

With the exception of just a few people, we are all but closed down in Hereford, Tewkesbury and Cheltenham. We continue to supply parts to the emergency services and are carrying out safety recalls etc on their vehicles, we are also offering an emergency service to true key workers. In addition, we are responding to all online enquiries and have a skeleton team who are carrying out the very few tasks that have to be done in order to prevent excessive costs when we eventually return to work.

Unfortunately, I have some very sad news and that is that we have lost one of our own to this horrible virus on Monday night. Reg Peppett worked for Cotswold Cheltenham as a part time driver. He had worked for the business for close to twenty years and whilst he was nearly eighty years young, he certainly didn’t look or behave like it. A keen Caravaner for many years and just about to make the switch to a Motorhome to enable him to spend virtually all of his spare time on the road, there aren’t that many people who buy a Motorhome at the age of 80! When the Corona virus kicked off in this country, we identified any of our team who we thought were vulnerable and Reg was asked to temporarily stand down from the business for his own safety. He refused to do this unless we promised that he could come back to work once the virus was over, he loved his job, cars and the people around him. A true character and a huge loss to everyone who knew him.

This virus can strike anyone and the effects can be so very different on each and every one of us. The belief of many of the scientists is that a huge amount of us have had the virus but the symptoms have been slight and almost unnoticeable. Who would have thought that the man who is leading the nation in its objective of fighting this virus would become infected and himself suffer in such a way that would necessitate intensive care treatment? Whether you’re a Boris fan or not, one thing that is so evident is that his cabinet are great believers in him and his illness has seen the political parties unite in their wishes for a speedy recovery, the first thing that they’ve agreed on for years!

I was watching Breakfast TV this morning and was hugely impressed by some of the older generation who have been seriously ill in hospital with the virus and have come out the other side. Everyone of those interviewed showed their total respect for the NHS and the incredible work that they’ve done and continue to do.

The initial shut down period of three weeks is coming to an end and it looks extremely likely that this is going to get extended for another two weeks as a minimum, albeit this hasn’t been officially confirmed as yet. I’m sure many of you are bored stiff and as I said to a couple of the guys in Cheltenham yesterday, having time off is lovely but not being able to do many of the things you like to do when you’re off makes this free time difficult to say the least. It is important however that we play our part and for me the biggest two things that we all must adhere to are that if you show any of the symptoms, you absolutely self-isolate and secondly, the 2m social distancing guideline is a must.

The management board and I have been talking virtually every day and our job is to make sure when we are able to return to work, that we have a plan. We don’t know what we’ll see when we return but subject to the country having some form of partial lifting of restrictions within the next three weeks, what we think we’ll see is an aftersales department that bounces back to some form of normality within a month of reopening. I suspect that it’ll take the sales departments several months before they’re back at anything like the volumes that we experienced for the first 12 weeks of the year. What is important is that we maximise the opportunity that is available to us when we return. If our aftersales departments bounce back in the way that we half expect, then we need everyone to play their part to ensure that we try to recover the losses that the business has made just as quickly as possible.

I’ve said it before and will say it again “this is a particularly difficult period of time for us” and there is a lot of speculation out there about companies not being able to pay their employees at the end of April. A lot of this is to do with the monthly furlough monies from the government not being paid until some time in May. I can confirm that you will get paid in April (at the amounts that have been agreed) on the day that you normally get paid.

I’ve got nothing else to say other than that our thoughts at this time have to be shared with many:

  • The family and friend of those who have suffered the loss of a loved one to COVID-19 and a special thought to Reg’s family.
  • The NHS. These guys are doing an amazing job and have absolutely won the hearts of the entire country. Without exception (I think), everyone who has been in hospital suffering with COVID-19 has mentioned just how amazing the Doctors and Nurses have been.
  • To all you guys who collectively make Cotswold what it is. I know each and every one of you will be financially worse off in this period of difficulty and I really do apologise for that. I also know that there may not have been be a business to come back to, if we hadn’t taken the measures we have.

I will send you another communication when I’ve got something to say, but until then, please stay safe, keep your minds active and remember what Her Majesty the Queen said “We’ll meet again”