MORE than a dozen jobs have been lost in Sunderland and Durham with the collapse of car parts supplier Unipart Automotive.
The Midlands-based firm, which operated a network of 180 branches and distribution hubs trading under the Unipart Automotive, Partco Autoparts, and Express Factors brands and employed 1,813 people, went into administration yesterday.
Administrators immediately sold part of the business to part distributors Andrew Page and The Parts Alliance in a deal which will see 33 branches stay open, safeguarding 361 jobs.
But the remainder of the business has ceased to trade and a total of 1,244 have been made redundant. A further 208 members of staff have been retained to assist the administrators.
Among those losing their jobs are 11 staff at the firm’s branch in Durham and seven in Sunderland.
Mark Orton, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: “Despite intensive efforts over recent weeks, a sale of the whole Unipart Automotive business could not be reached, and a buyer could only be found for 33 of the sites on a going-concern basis.
“Unfortunately, the business had been experiencing financial stress for a number of years, so the level of cash and further operational restructuring required to rescue a more substantial part of the business posed too much risk for most interested parties. Our team of employment specialists will be supporting all staff on completing redundancy forms and putting them in touch with job seeker services.We will now be reviewing what options are available for the remainder of the business, such as selling leasehold interests.”
The company also directly supports more than 700 independent, owner-operated garages through its Unipart Car Care Centre programme, in addition to having 19 franchisees. These companies fall outside of the administration and will operate as normal.
Unipart Automotive was formally part of the Unipart Group, but was sold in 2011.
Group chairman and chief executive John Neill said: “We are saddened by the Unipart Automotive situation and even though we sold control of this business years ago, we are concerned for the future of the employees.”