AutoNation Inc. now plans to shut almost all of its shops in Florida by means of Saturday because it braces for Hurricane Irma.
The nation’s largest dealership group plans to shut 76 shops within the state, Marc Cannon, chief advertising and marketing officer, advised Automotive Information. At this level, AutoNation Ford Panama Metropolis is the corporate’s solely retailer in Florida that may stay open Saturday.
“Irma is a worst-case hurricane for Florida. Something coming from the south, it is like a vicious uppercut on the complete state,” CEO Mike Jackson advised CNBC Friday morning.
For stay protection of Hurricane Irma from Reuters, click on right here.
Dealerships in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Seaside counties and Fort Myers closed at 5 p.m. Jap on Thursday and will likely be closed by means of Saturday, in line with a discover despatched to workers.
AutoNation’s Fort Lauderdale headquarters closed Wednesday at 6 p.m. and will likely be closed for the remainder of the week.
The notices says that central and northern Florida dealerships and dealerships within the Tampa Bay area ought to “start procedures to safe their shops.”
The dealerships will shut at 6 p.m. tonight and can stay closed Saturday. All workers will proceed to be paid whereas the shops are closed.
“We’re as prepared as might be however a high-wind storm will wreak havoc with grid in Florida,” Jackson mentioned. After Hurricane Wilma, “it took weeks, if not months, to revive electrical energy and that may be a main disruption consider attempting to get a big metropolis again to some semblance of normalcy. I’ve by no means seen such seriousness and Florida is as ready as might be.”
The corporate has moved 1000’s of autos to organize for the storm, Jackson added.
“We take parking garages at purchasing facilities, that are empty. Now we have moved all of the autos to excessive floor, shield them as a lot as we are able to,” he mentioned. “Then we shut down. Then we inform all our workers to maintain their households. Now we’re all simply hunkered down and hope for the most effective.”
The dealership group instructed staffers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Seaside counties, plus Fort Myers to unplug computer systems, printers and some other digital units at their dealerships earlier than leaving Thursday night. As well as, they have been advised that desktop laptop tools on flooring ought to be positioned on desks.
AutoNation additionally advised workers to name its emergency standing hotline to get updates on retailer closures and openings. The hotline will likely be up to date often.
AutoNation started making ready for Irma on Tuesday because it handled the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
The dealership group’s Houston shops are all open now, though Jackson estimated that 5-6 p.c of the corporate’s stock within the space was a complete loss.
However he added, “Now we have 50 associates who completely misplaced every little thing. All of them have been capable of finding shelter with mates, neighbors, household. They are going to have a protracted arduous highway rebuilding, and they’ll get probably the most help from us to start the journey of rebuilding their lives. After which we’ve got one other group of 200 which were severely impacted on totally different ranges.”
AutoNation ranks No. 1 on Automotive Information’ record of the highest 150 dealership teams based mostly within the U.S., with retail gross sales of 337,622 new autos in 2016.
On Thursday, JM Household Enterprises Inc., of Deerfield Seaside, Fla., was additionally taking precautions. It owns JM Lexus in Margate, Fla., and Southeast Toyota Distributors, which has amenities in Jacksonville, Fla., and Commerce, Ga.
The corporate mentioned JM Lexus, which has round 300 workers, will likely be closed Friday by means of Sunday. It’s the highest Lexus retailer within the nation, promoting almost eight,000 autos in 2016. The shop had a skeleton crew in place Thursday.
Southeast Toyota distributes Toyota autos to dealerships in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas. In 2016, the corporate mentioned, Toyota sellers in these 5 states offered 472,596 new Toyotas, together with 118,548 fleet deliveries.
Southeast Toyota is halting deliveries in three districts, which cowl the center of the state round Orlando and down each coasts, mentioned Christie Caliendo, a JM Household spokeswoman.
The distributor’s automobile processing and components warehouse in Jacksonville will likely be closed Friday by means of Monday. If issues take a flip for the more severe, it’s attainable that autos may very well be transported to a safer location. When Hurricane Matthew got here by means of final yr, Caliendo mentioned, Southeast Toyota moved stock from Jacksonville to an inland processing facility that’s about 40 miles west of the port there.
She mentioned JM Household isn’t taking any probabilities.
“I’ve been right here 10 years. That is the primary time [our headquarters] closed for a number of days,” she advised Automotive Information. “That is additionally an even bigger hurricane than we’ve seen in a very long time.”
At Warren Henry Auto Group in Miami, Common Supervisor Larry Zinn mentioned his group has already shut down and locked up over the previous couple of days.
“Now we have shops in Key West,” he advised Automotive Information TV. “So we have been fortunately capable of transfer over 100 automobiles out of Key West additional north to some increased floor to one in all our different places. The shops that want shutters are all shuttered up.”
Public sale websites
Manheim is closing a number of places as a result of storm.
Public sale websites in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Palm Seaside and Lakeland will shut tomorrow. The Manheim Caribbean website in Puerto Rico, which is already being hit by Irma, is closed till additional discover.
An organization spokeswoman mentioned Manheim is proactively speaking with its purchasers concerning the standing of its operations and their autos, and “helps to direct them to different Manheim digital channels for his or her automobile wants.”
“Throughout extreme climate circumstances reminiscent of Hurricane Irma, Manheim proactively plans and prepares to guard the protection of our group members, purchasers and places,” the corporate mentioned in an announcement. “This contains encouraging purchasers to retrieve their bought autos at our places previous to Friday to keep away from any attainable harm and shifting bodily gross sales to digital channels reminiscent of OVE for security causes.”
Vince Bond Jr. and Tom Worobec contributed to this report.