Car showrooms could be consigned to history as energy costs bite



Two thirds of motor dealership showrooms are among the least energy-efficient workplaces and face debilitating lighting, heating and air quality bills this winter.

Investors increasingly shun businesses with the worst EPC, or energy performance certificate, ratings. The property consultancy Rapleys reckons that 3,000 of the country’s 4,500 dealership showrooms come with the worst ratings of E, F or G.

“Dealerships are typically large properties with extensive glazing requiring huge amounts of lighting, heating and compressed air,” it said. Soaring bills are not the only issue. “Come 2025, all assets must be E grade or higher to be able to be leased or transacted but there are reports that some lenders are already ignoring anything less than a B grade EPC in order to future-proof their portfolios and protect values.”

Rapleys added: “Now, with the focus on electric vehicles, traditional structures are struggling to support charging points on their existing supply, let alone the rising costs of energy.” Lee Fraine, head of sustainable buildings at Rapleys, said: “Typically car dealerships have always focused most of their investment in the brand and aesthetics of their showrooms. Now the race is on to retrofit in order to support both the future and value of these businesses.”

The big dealership chains are already struggling to grapple with the issues. Vertu, the listed Bristol Street Motors group, has warned that it would be reaching for the “off” switch, or at least the dimmer control, and start investing in solar panels. It told investors its fixed-rate energy contract expires at the end of this month. “There will consequently be an increase in the group’s cost of energy in the second half of the financial year,” Vertu said.

“An energy purchasing strategy has been developed, which includes sourcing off-grid energy solutions in order to manage the group’s exposure to energy market price volatility risks.”





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