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Three U.K.-based marketplaces have announced help for customers in response to the impact of Covid-19.

AutoTrader to offer free April ads

Leading auto vertical AutoTrader.co.uk has announced it will support its customers who are affected by the impact of Covid-19.

The company said that with the “U.K. car retailing market facing unprecedented levels of uncertainty” it will contact customers to let them know about two immediate actions. Firstly, retailer customers will not be charged for their advertising packages during April.  Secondly, Auto Trader will allow customers to defer payment of March advertising costs by 30 days.

Auto Trader said it has taken the actions “to support an industry which has supported us.” It’s able to take these actions because of its low cost base, strength of its balance sheet and ability to access credit. Other automotive marketplaces have offered customers discounts. Leading U.S. car site, CarGurus has given dealer clients 50% off subscription fees for April.

It expects full-year results for the year ending March 2020 to be broadly in line with market expectations. These will be published on June 4, when it will give a further update. It said it cannot yet “sensibly provide guidance for financial year 2021, but expects an operating loss of £6-7 million ($7.1-8.3 million U.S.) for April. Full-year losses are likely to be higher, depending on how long the impact from Covid-19 lasts.

“These are unprecedented times so I believe that it is vital that we pull together and support our people, our customers and our industry. We are committed to supporting our retailer customers throughout this uncertain time,” said Nathan Coe, Auto Trader’s CEO.

Manheim to shut offline centres

Wholesale auto marketplace Manheim, part of Cox Automotive Group, said it will shut its 16 U.K. auction centres from Monday, following government advice, and hold auction sales via its simulcast platform instead. Simulcast and Manheim Online fees will be waived from Friday. The company said that “more virtual auctions and online-only events are in the pipeline.”

Restrictions will be introduced for customers going to sites to pay for or collect vehicles. These will be done at a controlled ‘handover’ location.

OnTheMarket to support agents

U.K.-based agent-owned real estate portal OnTheMarket has introduced support for agents who pay for full-price membership. They will receive a 33% listing fee discount for three months, starting from April. The full discount contrasts with the leading U.K. vertical Rightmove’s announcement of a complicated deferral scheme yesterday.

In a trading statement to shareholders, OnTheMarket did not disclose how many agents would benefit from the discount. Many agents are on discounted or promotional deals and are not eligible for the scheme.

“We understand the next few months are going to be tough and, as such, we believe simply kicking the monthly rate back is not helping agent partners, it’s delaying the unavoidable,” said Clive Beattie, acting chief executive.

Beattie was appointed to his new role last week, following the sacking of previous chief executive Ian Springett

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