Auto aftermarket body appeals for financial support

TOUGH TIMES: Around 80% of tyre, parts and accessory retailers, and repair and servicing outlets, are SMMEs who are under severe pressure during the Covid-19 lockdown.
TOUGH TIMES: Around 80% of tyre, parts and accessory retailers, and repair and servicing outlets, are SMMEs who are under severe pressure during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Image: Reuters

SA’s Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) has appealed to the government for funding to help keep the automotive aftermarket industry’s wheels turning post-lockdown.

Jakkie Olivier, CEO of the RMI, is concerned about the sustainability of the sector and warns that the economy could grind to a halt without the ability to maintain or fix cars, taxis and buses.

“The economy in SA is heavily dependent on an effective automotive repair and maintenance sector covering each and every town or city across the country’s wide geographical areas,” he said.

Jakkie Olivier, CEO of the RMI.
Jakkie Olivier, CEO of the RMI.
Image: Supplied

Olivier maintains there are thousands of cars locked down unfinished in workshops and repair shops across the country, which could affect the mobility of many out of lockdown.

He also cautions that even when the lockdown is lifted, there is no guarantee when these businesses will be able to trade effectively due to uncertainty over the availability of automotive parts, many of which are imported.

“The effect is being felt across all our businesses from the micro and small enterprises through to the medium and larger businesses.

“There is an urgent need to protect this essential sector and ensure it not only continues to function, but also maintains its significant apprenticeship and trainee programmes.”

Olivier says about 80% of tyre, parts and accessory retailers, and repair and servicing outlets, are small- to medium-sized businesses.

He quoted findings from the pre-lockdown Covid-19 National Small Business Survey released by the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC), which highlighted deep economic challenges facing small businesses during these unpredictable times.

 NSBC’s CEO Mike Anderson said that small businesses are facing insufficient cash flow due to a poor flow of customers.

Olivier said a significant number of retail automotive businesses were under severe pressure to pay their creditors and their employees.

He said he supported the need to safeguard the health of South Africans but appealed to the government to recognise the critical role the automotive aftermarket industry was playing in keeping the economy ticking, and the need to prioritise an alternate funding mechanism/capital injection before it was too late and businesses closed their doors.

He told Motor News he wasn’t formally applying for support from the Solidarity Response Fund set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

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